If you’ve been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, you’ve probably been told that you have a limited amount of time left to live. That being the case, the idea of submitted to genetic testing may feel unnecessary. After all, what difference does your genetic profile make at this point? According to noted mesothelioma specialist and director of thoracic oncology at the University of Hawaii Cancer Center, it can make an enormous difference, and potentially add years to your overall survival time.
Dr. Carbone was one of the first researchers who determined that mesothelioma patients had a much higher incidence of carrying a specific genetic mutation called BAP1. Whether carrying that gene makes it more likely that somebody exposed to asbestos is more likely to develop the disease is a question that is still very much up in the air, but what has been proven true is that mesothelioma patients who carry the mutation have a far better chance of living long past the median survival time expected for people diagnosed with this rare and fatal form of cancer.
As is true with any disease, mesothelioma responds best to treatment that is specific to its characteristics, but mesothelioma can take many different forms. In addition to the fact that it can appear in different areas of the body, there are also a variety of cell types. When you add to this dynamic the presence or absence of the BAP1 mutation, researchers have determined that there are a wide variety of appropriate treatment protocols, and each is highly specific to the patient’s characteristics. According to Carbone, when mesothelioma patients who carry the BAP1 mutation are given the right treatment or provided with the right follow-up care, it can represent the difference between a six-to-18-month prognosis and a five-to-ten-year prognosis. That is an enormous difference, and an opportunity for extended survival that could be lost if patients opt out of genetic testing.
Though Carbone says that only about one third of mesothelioma patients are currently undergoing genetic testing, of those it has been determined that roughly 70 percent carry the BAP1 mutation. This is a marked departure from the 20 percent of other cancers that carry the mutation. Notably, BAP1 is not necessarily something that a person can be born with. It can develop as cancer develops.
If you have been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma and you need more information about anything related to the illness, we can help. Contact us today at 1-800-966-2244.