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Scientists hope protein gene can improve rare cancer detection

Medical experts believe that as many as one in 10 patients suffering from pleural mesothelioma in North Carolina and around the country may be misdiagnosed. This rare form of cancer is often discovered in individuals who have been exposed to large quantities of asbestos, and most oncologists have had little or no experience with it. Making matters even more challenging for doctors is that many of the symptoms of pleural mesothelioma are also symptoms of lung cancer.

A team of researchers from Hawaii and New York have been studying ways of improving pleural mesothelioma detection rates, and they believe that the protein coding gene BAP-1 may provide physicians with a way of differentiating those with the disease from lung cancer sufferers. The protein was found in all of the lung cancer samples tested by the team, but it was discovered in less than half of the pleural mesothelioma samples tested. The results of the study were published on July 18 in the medical journal Oncotarget.

Pleural mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer, and those with the disease are usually given a prognosis of between six and 18 months. Treatment options are few, but the scientists behind the study believe that using BAP-1 as a marker could help doctors to detect the disease earlier and prolong the lives of sufferers. About 3,000 cases of Pleural mesothelioma are diagnosed each year in the United States.

Medical malpractice cases that stem from a failure to diagnose often come down to arguments about what doctors should have asked, should have known or should have done. Physicians and their insurance providers are rarely eager to admit that mistakes were made, and personal injury attorneys representing the victims of medical malpractice may call upon specialists to explain how the care provided to their clients failed to meet the standards generally accepted in the medical community.

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