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Antibody Staining to Diagnose Mesothelioma

Key takeaways: There are several techniques that are in place to help visualize, detect, and eventually diagnose mesothelioma. However, because the median age of mesothelioma patients is 72, diagnosis needs to be speedy and non-invasive. Antibody staining is a technique that includes administering artificially-created fluorescent antibodies to visualize which antibodies attack which tumors. Because different levels of certain antibodies are associated with mesothelioma as opposed to other kinds of cancers, an antibody-centered approach can be very useful. Despite its utility, antibody-based techniques aren’t widely used. Ideally, they will be implemented more in the future to ensure the speedy and accurate diagnosis of mesothelioma.

What are Other Techniques to Diagnose Mesothelioma?

While there are plenty of techniques to diagnose mesothelioma, most of them are invasive and/or require a living tissue sample to be histologically (in a lab) tested. Because of the lengthy latency period of mesothelioma onset, the median age of diagnosis is 72. Age comes with a higher risk for comorbidities, pre-existing conditions, and general weakness of the body, so this makes biopsies and more invasive diagnosis techniques less feasible. Some studies suggest that the morphological presentations of lung cancers, carcinomas, and mesotheliomas are too similar and that these cancers should be formally diagnosed postmortem. However, this hands-off approach does not allow for proper medical intervention: if a doctor is unsure of their patient’s diagnosis, then their approach is skewed and entirely inadequate. The treatment for a given lung cancer is markedly different from a treatment for pleural mesothelioma. Currently, there are a few tried-and-true diagnostic techniques for pleural mesothelioma: Biopsy: taking a small amount of living pleural tissue and comparing it against known mesothelioma structures. Chest X-ray: using radiation to visualize the chest cavity. Tumors can be identified here, but specificity cannot be ensured. CT scan (Computed tomography): using radiation to visualize the body in very thin slices. Like X-ray, specificity can’t be ensured. Blood tests: checking for elevated levels of certain proteins or antibodies, which are usually associated with a mesothelioma diagnosis. Although there are a significant amount of existing diagnostic procedures, it’s apparent that they don’t immediately lend themselves to a mesothelioma diagnosis. They often have to be used in conjunction, and this aggregating of techniques takes time and resources.

What is Antibody Staining?

Antibodies, which are the agents of the immune system that latch onto and kill antigens, can be artificially created in labs. These antibodies are modified to be fluorescent; they can be visualized with certain external techniques, even when inside the body. Doctors and researchers can visualize which antibodies attack potential mesothelioma tumors, and from there can provide a more accurate diagnosis. Because certain antibodies are associated with different kinds of cancers, doctors can use a differential diagnosis in addition to the previous diagnostic techniques in order to ensure a mesothelioma diagnosis. For instance, a positive carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) result–meaning that CEA is drawn to the present cancerous cells–is usually associated with carcinoma as opposed to mesothelioma. In conjunction with a blood test or chest X-ray, this diagnosis could be reached relatively quickly. Although this approach isn’t in widespread use, given its price and dependence on differential diagnoses, hopefully it will be more commonplace as we learn more about the antibodies associated with mesothelioma. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, please call The Halpern Law Firm at (800) 505-6000. We are here to help you navigate the legal process of filing a claim to receive compensation for your cancer diagnosis. We help mesothelioma victims and their families in Pennsylvania.
Sources:
How Is Malignant Mesothelioma Diagnosed? (n.d.). Retrieved February 19, 2024, from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/types/malignant-mesothelioma/detection-diagnosis-stagi ng/how-diagnosed.html
Immunohistological staining of reactive mesothelium, mesothelioma, and lung carcinoma with a panel of monoclonal antibodies. – PMC. (n.d.). Retrieved February 19, 2024, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1140823/   Roberts, F., Harper, C. M., Downie, I., & Burnett, R. A. (2001). Immunohistochemical Analysis Still Has a Limited Role in the Diagnosis of Malignant Mesothelioma: A Study of Thirteen Antibodies. American Journal of Clinical Pathology, 116(2), 253–262. https://doi.org/10.1309/XL6K-8E62-9FLD-V8Q8   Written By Carina Filemyr
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