New Mesothelioma Blood Test is Promising for Diagnosis

Hampton Roads has had a pocket of mesothelioma cases due to the high number of retired shipyard workers who were not adequately protected during their years working around asbestos. These guys workers had phenomenal asbestos exposure as they ripped out old insulation on ships and installed new.  The old insulation lining was made of asbestos and crumbled during its removal, which allowed the shards to be inhaled by the workers who were not compelled to wear respirators.

In the past the diagnosis and monitoring of patients with malignant mesothelioma has been hampered by the lack of a sensitive and specific tumor marker. But there’s new hope with findings that support the potential of a mesothelioma blood test.

In the October 2012 edition of The New England Journal of Medicine, Harvey Pass and colleagues from the Karmanos Cancer Institute at Wayne State and the NYU Langone Medical Center report on fibulin-3 as a blood and effusion biomarker. The authors measured plasma levels of this glycoprotein and fibulin-3 in pleural effusions in mesothelioma patients.

The results of these studies showed an exceptional difference of plasma and pleural fluid fibulin-3 levels in patients with mesothelioma versus patients with everything else.  There was no association of levels with age, gender or the duration of asbestos exposure.

What is the significance of these findings?  There has been a need for a screening test for mesothelioma in high risk groups in hopes of identifying patients with lower tumor burdens than are currently seen so that they might benefit more from current and future treatments, which at present impact the natural history of this disease only modestly… Read the rest of this article at!

James Stark, MD, of Stark Oncology

James Stark, MD, of Stark Oncology Consulting

About Dr. James Stark
Dr. James Stark is the founder of StarkOncology, where he practiced Oncology in Hampton Roads for thirty-four years.  He is now a health-care consultant specializing in topics such as breast cancer, colon cancer, lung cancer, chemotherapy complications, and failure to screen. In addition to this new venture he continues to serve as Professor of Medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School.

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