Clinical Study Starts to Develop Breath Test for Early Detection of Mesothelioma

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A doctor with more than 30 years of experience fighting asbestos-related diseases is the lead investigator in a new clinical trial of breath-based biomarkers that may say lives through early detection of mesothelioma. (

According to Michael Harbut, MD, the new clinical study has great significance for the early detection of mesothelioma and could become very important in the fight against the disease. The study is a partnership between Owlstone Medical, which is the Breath Biopsy investor in the UK, and the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers, which is a building trade union that covers the US and Canada.

Early Mesothelioma Diagnosis Is Still Rare

The first aspect of the clinical study will focus on the identification of volatile organic compounds that are found in the breath of people who have mesothelioma. The next phase involves verifying the sensitivity, specificity, and negative/positive predictive values of selective, volatile, organic compound biomarkers.

The goal of the study is to devise a formula where it is easier to obtain breath samples that can be more reliable identifiers of the early stages of the disease. This is a time when cancer caused by asbestos exposure can be treated more successfully.

Harbut points out that one of the most challenging aspects of mesothelioma is that it is very challenging to identify cancer early. Most diagnoses of mesothelioma occur in stage 3 mesothelioma or stage 4 mesothelioma when it is too late to treat effectively.

Common symptoms of pleural mesothelioma in the later stages include a regular dry cough, chest tightness, sweating at night, shortness of breath and fatigue. The early symptoms can be mistaken for far less serious diseases.

The current clinical study could alter that problem. It might even help to identify people who are more likely to get the disease later in life.

US Is Behind in Early Detection of Mesothelioma

Some progress is being made in the use of breath tests to identify some cancers in higher-risk groups, the US has long lagged behind Europe in developing this science. In 2017, clinical researchers in Belgium released a study that highlights the possibilities of breath analysis to detect asbestos diseases, but it is not commonly used in the US.

Owlstone Medical recently devised the Breath Biopsy to get an early diagnosis of pulmonary hypertension and several of its subtypes.

Harbut noted that most people do not think of asbestos insulators in the US being entirely in tune with current scientific and medical trends, but he thinks it is time for that to change with this current study.

Mesothelioma is caused by the ingestion or inhalation of tiny asbestos fibers. It is usually not diagnosed until the late stages of mesothelioma cancer when palliative care is the only good option.

The median rate of survival for mesothelioma is only approximately a year after diagnosis. Less than a quarter of those diagnosed can even qualify for aggressive surgery.

Strong Union Support for Clinical Study

Leadership of the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers Union is excited about the many opportunities of the study. They note that too many workers in the union have died from mesothelioma early in life. That union has 23,000 members and many of them are exposed to asbestos products in the manufacturing and building trades and are thought to be at higher risk for mesothelioma.

This study is being financially supported by the Heat and Frost Insulators Tissue Bank Asbestos Research Charitable Trust.

It is believed that 3000 people are diagnosed with asbestos cancer in the United States every year. Most of these cases are related to asbestos exposure on the job.

It is hoped this new clinical study will show that a method can be developed for early detection. Rather than members needing to go to a hospital and getting a CT scan, one day it might be possible to perform breath tests in a union hall.

It is true the use of asbestos has dropped a great deal in the last 30 years, but it is still a serious health problem because asbestos materials still exist in older buildings.

Overview of Mesothelioma and Asbestos Claims

If you or a loved one have been affected by mesothelioma, there are several types of legal claims that may be filed. These include personal injury lawsuits, wrongful death mesothelioma lawsuits, asbestos trust fund claims and Social Security disability claims. Also, military veterans that were exposed to asbestos during their service could be eligible to file for health and disability benefits from the VA.

Why File a Mesothelioma Claim?

Mesothelioma is nearly always preventable because it traces back in most cases to asbestos exposure by corporations. In 2017, there were at least 4200 lawsuits filed in the US by people who became ill because of asbestos exposure.

If you or your loved one was diagnosed with mesothelioma, your family is going to need every financial resource they can. Never assume that you are not eligible to file a claim. Asbestos exposure is almost always due to exposure at work, so there is usually a company or companies that could be held liable in a legal action.

To file a claim you need to find a mesothelioma attorney with an excellent track record in this highly specialized area of the law. Law firms that specialize in asbestos cancer cases have access to research materials that help to build a strong case.

You also will need to work with your attorney to assemble your medical records, work history, and testimony that proves what caused your asbestos exposure and the cancer diagnosis.

Speak to an experienced mesothelioma attorney in your state today if you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or a related asbestos-caused disease. Note that the statute of limitations to file a claim can run from one to four years depending upon your state of residence or where the exposure occurred, so time is of the essence.


  • Breath Test for Mesothelioma Early Detection. (2019). Retrieved from