A group of doctors and scientists in Belgium proclaim that potential breath tests to detect malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) show great promise, opening yet another door towards early detection of the disease that normally isn’t diagnosed until its later stages.
The scientists from Antwerp and Ghent are in the very early stages of studying the technique and recently published an article on the use of a mesothelioma breath test and how it may make up for the shortcomings of blood-based biomarker tests.
Blood tests to check for certain biomarkers, like mesothelin, were developed about 5 years ago and are often employed to test those for whom the development of mesothelioma is a real possibility because of past asbestos exposure.
“This method seems very promising in the early detection of diverse malignancies, because exhaled breath contains valuable information on cell and tissue metabolism,” wrote Ghent University researcher Sabrina Lagniau in the article that appeared in the journal Oncotarget.
Furthermore, “breathomics” testing for pleural mesothelioma is simple to perform, inexpensive, and non-invasive, making it a win-win for patients and medical professionals dealing with this dreaded form of cancer.
Analysis of blood-based biomarker tests also takes some time.
Analyzing these breath tests shouldn’t take as long, say the experts. Some breath tests even allow for real-time analysis, with immediate results available to the doctor and patient.
“Research that focuses on breath biomarkers in MPM is in its early days, but the few studies that have been performed show promising results. We believe a breathomics-based biomarker approach should be further explored to improve the follow-up and management of asbestos exposed individuals,” study authors wrote.
The study also points out that breathomics has already been put to use as a diagnostic tool for some cancers, most notably lung cancer.
“Breathomics is an increasingly investigated research field showing promising results for early stage diagnosis of MPM. Rigorous studies on large patient cohorts and appropriate controls will determine the clinical validity and utility of breathomics in the diagnosis of mesothelioma,” the authors conclude, encouraging other researchers to continue the road towards early detection through this novel technique.