Dr. Michele Carbone, director of thoracic oncology at the University of Hawaii Cancer Center supports the procedure and considers that all malignant mesothelioma (MM) patients should under undergo this medical investigation as it can supposedly better predict the most appropriate treatment option.
“The whole concept today of personalized medicine is based on the genetic makeup of the tumor”, he said. “It could change the way you treat a patient, the way you diagnose a patient, or how you address follow-up care. It’s important to family members, also”.
Back in 2011, his research contributed to the identification of the BAP1 gene mutation which remains the only known biological mechanism to make people more vulnerable to cancer. It appears in approximately 70 percent of mesothelioma cases but only in 20 percent of overall cancers.
More recently, Carbone published a study in The Journal of Clinical Oncology revealing how the BAP1 gene and other germline mutations could indicate significant survival advantages in a subset of MM patients. While median survival is generally 5 years, those who did not exhibit the mutation lived on average 9 years from the moment of diagnosis.
As the gene can be inherited, Dr. Carbone hopes that people will be more inclined to take genetic testing, both for them and their family members. In time, BAP1 can develop tumors that are chemo-resistant, making early detection even more important. Finding the strain sooner could also lead to a minimized risk of developing mesothelioma cancers. Already there are a number of therapies that specifically target certain genetic markers.
Genetic testing clearly offers plenty of incentives when it comes to malignant mesothelioma, but also other cancers. If you are worried, maybe ask your doctor about this procedure.