Mesothelioma Clinical Trial Tests Safer Diagnosis Methods

Doctors in England are conducting a mesothelioma clinical trial to determine if a treatment called prophylactic irradiation of tracks (PIT) can prevent additional tumors in patients who undergo biopsies to confirm their diagnoses. Mesothelioma is a deadly form of cancer that is associated with exposure to asbestos or high doses of radiation.

How Diagnosis of Mesothelioma Can Be Dangerous

One particularly insidious aspect of mesothelioma is that diagnosing it can make it worse. Since there is no blood test yet available that can diagnose mesothelioma, doctors must resort to biopsies. The clinical trial being conducted by British doctors will attempt to prevent “seeding” in these cancer patients. Seeding is the process by which mesothelioma tumors can metastasize along the needle site of a biopsy. About 15% of biopsy patients who have mesothelioma will develop these additional, “seeded” tumors.

Various Biopsy Methods Being Tested

According to Surviving Mesothelioma, the clinical trial will look at various biopsy methods:

  • CT-guided needle biopsy
  • Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (known as VATs)
  • Thoracoscopy (a scope is used to look at the lungs and their linings)
  • Open thoracotomy (a major surgery involving the opening of the chest cavity)

Studying the Impact of Prophylactic Irradiation of Tracks (PIT)

The UK study will involve 374 mesothelioma patients, half of whom will be given prophylactic irradiation of tracks (PIT) after their biopsies. PIT is the process of irradiating the trail – or “tracks” –  left by the biopsy instruments at the end of the biopsy procedure. The doctors performing the clinical trial hope the post-biopsy radiation will rid the area of any stray mesothelioma cells and prevent seeded tumors from arising. The other half of the patients in the mesothelioma clinical trial – the control group – will not be treated with PIT.

A Promising Study

Prophylactic radiation is already in use as a means of preventing some types of lung cancer from metastasizing to the brain. Additionally, PIT is already being used in other European countries after mesothelioma biopsy procedures. Dr. Neil Bayman, one of the lead doctors involved in the English study, is the Clinical Director of the Manchester Cancer Lung Pathway. He is also an active member of The Christie School of Oncology, the “largest single site cancer center in Europe, treating more than 44,000 patients a year,” according to its website.

For more detailed information about the study, read its protocol abstract online at BMJ Open. To learn more about mesothelioma diagnosis and survival, read these Mesothelioma Statistics.

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and want to find out if you could be reimbursed for medical costs, lost wages, or other expenses that have resulted from your diagnosis, talk to our personal injury lawyers.