GERMANY: The possibility of early detection of mesotheliomas, a breakthrough

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According to the statistics of the injury insurance organization (DGUV), more than half of the deaths due to occupational diseases are attributable to asbestos. One of the most serious, mesothelioma, has so far been able to be treated only to a very limited extent, because it is generally discovered only at an advanced stage.

Now for the first time, a method for early detection of mesotheliomas has been validated. It is based on the results of combined blood analysis of the specific biomarkers of this disease, namely calretinin and mesothelin. “In certain high-risk groups, around 50% of patients who develop a mesothelioma can be detected up to one year before the clinical diagnostic with only 2% of false positives”, explains Dr Johnen, head of the Centre of Expertise in Molecular Medicine of the Ruhr University Institute in Bochum (IPA).

Dr Joachim Breuer, Director General of the DGUV, does not conceal his enthusiasm: “The insured monitored under the prevention programme who show a heightened risk of developing a mesothelioma will in future be able to receive early treatment”. Under this programme, workers exposed to asbestos are personally advised, examined and monitored regularly.

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