Researchers have devised a new method for distinguishing the most common form of mesothelioma — malignant pleural mesothelioma — from lung conditions with similar symptoms.

Using a gene mapping technique known as fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH), Japanese researchers could reliably predict whether a patient’s lung tissue sample was cancerous or not, according to a Japanese study published Jan. 25.

More specifically, a 10-person team from Fukuoka University scanned lung samples of patients suffering from pleural effusion, or excess fluid buildup between the tissues that line the lungs and the chest.

The team used FISH and other gene-testing techniques to find genetic mutations associated with pleural mesothelioma, including cyclin‐dependent kinase‐inhibitor 2A/p16, BRCA1‐associated protein 1, and neurofibromatosis type 2.

By scanning for these anomalies, the researchers were able to distinguish between malignant tumors in the lung walls and garden-variety pleural effusion cases with remarkable regularity, according to the report published in the American Cancer Society’s journal Cancer Cryptopathology.

When just using FISH to scan for neurofibromatosis mutations, the team was able to positively ID mesothelioma cases with roughly 52 percent sensitivity and perfect specificity. But when that technique was used in combination with immune-staining samples and scanning for other genetic mutations tied to pleural mesothelioma, the sensitivity rating skyrocketed to 98.1 percent, the study states.

Additional techniques were required for some samples. For example, the team required immunofluorescence used in combination with FISH for roughly 26 percent of initial pleural mesothelioma diagnosis, owing to issues with some of the lung tissue samples.

Based on these results, the researchers concluded that using FISH alone or in concert with other diagnostic techniques “effectively differentiates” pleural mesothelioma from inflamed or infected lung samples from pleural effusion patients.


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