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Hawaii Researchers Find Link to Mesothelioma Through Skin Lesions and BAP1

University of Hawaii (UH) Cancer Center researchers have found yet another link to the deadly cancer mesothelioma.  Researchers found that patients that have certain mole-like tumors may also carry a gene mutation indicating a higher risk of both melanoma and mesothelioma.

In a study led by Michele Carbone, M.D., Ph.D., director of the University’s Cancer Center and professor of pathology at John A. Burns School of Medicine, the researchers reported that this finding may allow physicians to visually identify individuals with a higher susceptibility to developing mesothelioma.

The researchers found that those patients with the noncancerous, flat or slightly elevated, and pigmented skin lesions also carried mutations of the BAP1 gene.  UH researchers reported previously that mutations of the BAP1 gene, which is involved in tumor suppression, might underlie mesothelioma in people with a strong family history of the disease.

The researchers confirmed those findings in this study after examining records of 118 individuals from seven unrelated families.  The prevalence of malignant mesothelioma and certain melanomas was significantly higher in the family members with BAP1-mutated genes.

“Identifying this gene as a cause of several cancers can tell us who is at risk in a family before the cancer develops,” said Carbone.

Early detection of mesothelioma has shown to positively influence a patient’s survival by increasing treatment options and improving their quality of life while battling the cancer.  Stopping tumor growth and preventing metastasis is especially critical for mesothelioma and lung cancer where the diseases are highly aggressive.  This can only be achieved if the cancer is detected early.

Although there is no effective screening tool available for mesothelioma, Carbone said, “We can advise patients to undergo routine exams and genetic testing for early diagnoses and treatment.”

He also suggested those patients that are identified with the BAP1 gene to limit exposure to asbestos and other environmental risk factors known to cause mesothelioma.

The study was published in the Journal of Translational Medicine.

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Nancy Meredith is a blog and web content writer with more than 20 years of professional experience in the Information Technology industry. She has been writing about Mesothelioma for 7 years. Follow Nancy on Google+

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