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Could blood tests replace CT scans for meso monitoring?

A recent British study shows promising results for those suffering from the long-term effects of mesothelioma. While the study doesn't provide a cure for the disease, it could make tracking the progress of malignant epithelial and sarcomatoid mesotheliomas both less invasive and less expensive.

The study compared whether using a blood test to check for a mesothelioma-specific blood protein marker called mesothelin could be as effective as regular CT scans for monitoring the metastasis of mesothelioma in patients who'd already completed a course of chemotherapy. The results were encouraging, as blood test results matched CT scan progression 96 percent of the time in patients suffering from epithelial mesothelioma, and 80 percent of the time in those with sarcomatoid mesothelioma.

The practice of blood testing isn't a new one, as it has been used in the past to help keep track of disease progression. However, this research shows that blood testing could actually replace CT scans, saving patients tens of thousands of dollars over the course of their mesothelioma treatment, and reducing their exposure to the heavy doses of radiation that come with CT scans.

In addition to being helpful tracking the disease, blood monitoring of mesothelin levels proved effective in predicting survival times for patients. Patients whose mesothelin had risen after six months of monitoring had an average survival time of 175 days, compared with 448 days for those whose rate remained steady or fell.

This study was on a small scale, with only 41 participants. Still, the results could possibly lead to different - and better - treatment options for mesothelioma in the future.

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