The search for a cure to mesothelioma, the incurable asbestos-related cancer, continues as recently released figures show 2,000 diagnosed cases are recorded annually in the UK, and the number of deaths rose to 66.4 per million people between 2006 and 2008.
The long latency period of between 15 to 50 years before the first signs of mesothelioma or asbestosis symptoms emerge has often been a decisive factor in trying to detect the disease at an early stage in a bid to improve survival rates. In addition, asbestosis treatments involving new research into genetic / cellular behaviour and drug therapy combinations have shown promising results.
Remission has been achieved in some instances, either spontaneously or through the adoption of specialised treatment procedures. While complete remission and the disappearance of all evidence of mesothelioma cancer is rare, long-term mesothelioma survivors may be considered to be in partial remission when they are able to survive for several years after diagnosis, despite the presence of the cancer tumours.
While a surgery procedure is the most likely method, which can lead to prolonging remission, partial or complete remission has also been obtained from other therapies, including systemic chemotherapy, immunotherapy and oxygen therapy. In addition, the sustained application of palliative treatments, which involve significant dietary changes by adopting a vegetarian diet plus nutritional supplements.
Recent research suggests that the nuclei of mesothelioma cells could contain vital clues for predicting patient survival, rather than a prognosis based on the prescribed stage and severity the mesothelioma has reached. Analysis of the nuclei of cell samples was taken from a study group of over 230 patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma.
An evaluation was then made by classification of seven determining features, including variation in appearance, pattern of DNA and proteins, extra proteins, components of the nucleus and abnormal division of the chromosomes.
Analysis of each cell sample revealed that the variation in appearance and the number of dividing cells were directly related to patient prognosis. A three-tier nuclear grade score was created from the observations. The average patient survival for Grade I - 28 months, Grade II - 14 months, and Grade III - 5 months.
The researchers concluded, "Not only was nuclear grade an independent predictor of overall survival, but it was also a stronger discriminator of survival than all currently available factors,". In addition, the nuclear grading system also proved a useful indicator when predicting time to mesothelioma recurrence in patients who underwent complete surgical resection.
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