For people who have been exposed to asbestos, either directly or through secondary/second-hand exposure, one thing that is constantly on their minds is the possibility of developing mesothelioma. Mesothelioma develops in the tissue layer that covers most internal organs. There are different types of mesothelioma. They are pleura mesothelioma (the most common), peritoneal mesothelioma, pericardial mesothelioma, and testicular mesothelioma (the least common). According to statistics, there are around 3,000 new mesothelioma cases in the U.S. annually. Unfortunately, often, mesothelioma is diagnosed when it has progressed to late stages. This usually means an unfavorable prognosis, or in other words, a low chance of treatment success. A new mesothelioma breath test may allow mesothelioma patients to get early diagnoses.
Mesothelioma Breath Test Study Reveals Encouraging Results
Recently, Belgian scientists explained the results of their mesothelioma breath test study (MESOBREATH 5). While the study is in the early stages, the results gathered so far show that there is hope. From the start of last year, 121 people with a history of asbestos exposure dating back to at least 30 years ago underwent breath testing. Seven out of the 121 people have already been confirmed to have mesothelioma. Those seven received the same testing as the others as a control. Each of the seven confirmed mesothelioma patients tested positive for the illness two years in a row, indicating that the breath test can detect mesothelioma.
The breath test works by identifying volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in exhaled breath that may indicate mesothelioma. All 121 people underwent breath testing in 2022 and 2023. The sensitivity and negative predictive value were good, but the positive predictive value, accuracy, and specificity weren’t. For example, the positive predictive value was less than 5%.
Despite promising findings, it was revealed that the team witnessed a lot of false positives. In an attempt to lessen the number of false positives, the team tested patients twice and looked at patients with positive results from the two tests. Over 45% of individuals who had suffered asbestos exposure but hadn’t been previously diagnosed with mesothelioma had two positive test results. According to the team, a possible explanation of why there are false positives could be that the breath test can detect mesothelioma in people who are not yet exhibiting symptoms.
The next step for the research team is to have people showing two positive results submit to low-dose CT scans to check if they have mesothelioma or if other factors led to the results reading positive.
In addition to checking if the breath test can detect mesothelioma, the research team used the test to see how patients would respond to treatment. The test was over 85% accurate in differentiating patients whose illness progressed and those whose disease did not advance. Since all patients received the same mesothelioma treatment, the research team concluded that the amount of volatile organic compounds in breath tests could be associated with the behavior of mesothelioma tumors.
Nationwide Mesothelioma Lawyers
If you or a loved one were diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact our office to speak to one of our experienced nationwide mesothelioma attorneys about your situation. Our office can help investigate your case and determine if compensation can be sought from negligent parties to help pay for your medical treatment to help you and your family live a more comfortable life.