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Is a breath test for mesothelioma on the horizon?

Belgian researchers from Ghent University and Antwerp University say that breath tests could be the next medical advancement in the quest for early mesothelioma detection.

Specifically, in a report titled, "Biomarkers for early diagnosis of malignant mesothelioma: Do we need another moonshot?", researchers stated that a potential mesothelioma breath test seemed "very promising" for the early detection of this deadly cancer.

Why is early diagnosis important?

Mesothelioma is a rare, yet aggressive, form of cancer. In most cases, this deadly disease can be linked to asbestos exposure -- with symptoms often taking years to develop following exposure, but then progress very rapidly.

Sadly, malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is usually diagnosed when the victims are already in advanced stages of the disease, meaning treatments are less likely to be effective. This is why early detection is important

While many attempts have already been made to diagnose mesothelioma using biomarkers in blood, no one has yet been able to create a reliable, reproducible blood test. Given these challenges, some researchers are beginning to think that the answer to early detection will not be found in blood, but instead in a victim's breath.

In fact, according to the Belgian report, exhaled breath contains "valuable information on cell and tissue metabolism." While the authors of the report noted that this type of breath-based research is certainly in its early days, they also pointed out that the few studies that have been completed on this subject have shown "promising results."

Hopefully, with time, an effective method for diagnosing mesothelioma earlier will be developed.

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