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Mesothelioma News

New Light-based Test Helps Diagnose Mesothelioma Early

Mesothelioma generally has a long dormancy period, ranging anywhere from 20 to 50 years. When it’s finally diagnosed, mesothelioma is usually in the latest stages of the disease. A new light-based test, however, may help in detecting and diagnosing mesothelioma much earlier.

According to a group of researchers from Japan’s Asahikawa Medical University, a new detection for mesothelioma, photodynamic diagnosis (PDD), finds cancer cell in the lung’s linings via light-based imaging.

“Accurate diagnosis of [lung cancer] is an extremely important issue in planning therapeutic strategies,” lead author of the study, Masahiro Kitada. “Moreover, early diagnosis of malignant pleural mesothelioma, which carries a poor prognosis due to the lack of effective therapies, has also attracted attention.”

The Principal Behind Light-based Therapy

The basic principle behind PDD is autofluorescence, defined by Kitada as a “spontaneous emission of light” that happens when an outside device makes contact with living tissues inside the body. In response to autofluorescence, several cells absorb the light.

Testing PDD Effectiveness

In order to test how effective PDD is, the team of researchers used a light tool equipped on a camera. They used the camera’s blue light to shine on the lining of the patients’ lungs shortly after they received thoracoscopic surgery. It was then easier to confirm the cancer with 100% accuracy.

When the light was beamed onto the lung linings, the tissues immediately reacted with excitement, causing it to discharge and different-colored light. According to the researchers, the color that the tissues emit help to diagnose mesothelioma. For example, the healthy tissues discharged a green light, while the cancerous cells discharged a reddish to violet color.

Potential Benefits of PDD

Researchers indicate that there are several potential benefits to PDD, including:

  • Less time-consuming and less costly when compared to current approaches
  • Easier to distinguish between different types of lung conditions
  • Ability to detect cancer in real time
  • A more faster and accurate diagnosis

Improving PDD Techniques

Although the results have been promising, researchers plan on improving PDD through additional investigations.

“It has been pointed out that the light intensity emitted by our device is rather low for optimal observation,” said Kitada. “At present, we are developing a device equipped with a light-emitting diode to increase light intensity.”

Furthermore, one of the biggest improvements that the researchers hope to make is to better distinguish between benign and malignant lesions.

Currently, PDD is ineffective in clearly displaying borders between healthy tissues and cancerous tissues. As a result, Kitada and his team have started testing 5-ALA, a texture people can consume prior to the PDD test. Once 5-ALA is consumed, it can help physicians see the tumors more clearly.

To learn more about PDD, refer to the July, 2014 edition of the Annals of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, where the entire study was published.

Additional Resources and Legal Assistance

Keep in mind that if you or a loved one have been injured by asbestos, you may be entitled to substantial compensation. Our experienced and knowledgeable attorneys have helped numerous clients go on to win the compensation they deserve. Contact our dedicated mesothelioma attorneys today for a free, confidential case consultation. 


  1. Kitada, M., Ohsaki, Y., Matsuda, Y., Hayashi, S. and Ishibashi, K. (2014, July 11). Photodynamic Diagnosis of Malignant Pleural Diseases Using the Autofluorescence Imaging System. Ann Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. Retrieved from