Mesothelioma is an aggressive type of cancer that begins in the mesothelium, which is the lining that protects the organs. This lining forms a sack around the organs and holds a fluid that provides a protective buffer. Mesothelioma is caused by exposure to Asbestos, which damages this lining by causing chronic irritation to the tissue around it. Asbestos is a needle-like mineral that imbeds itself into the organ tissues at the time of exposure. However, not everybody exposed to Asbestos ends up contracting Mesothelioma.
In a recent study done at the University of Hawaii, which is one of the top Mesothelioma research locations, it was found that a certain genetic mutation to the BAP1 gene may predispose people to cancers including Mesothelioma. This specific genetic mutation is known to cause something that looks like a mole on the skin, which could be used by physicians and pathologists to help determine whether or not somebody is predisposed to certain types of cancers. This mole-like tumor could help doctors determine whether or not certain people exposed to Asbestos are more likely to contract Mesothelioma. This could be a huge breakthrough, because as with most cancers, early detection of Mesothelioma leads to earlier treatment and a better overall prognosis.
The study conducted at the University of Hawaii looked at 118 different people from 7 unrelated families, 55 people without the BAP1 mutation and 63 with the mutation, in an attempt to find external markers to the BAP1 gene abnormality. In the BAP1 mutated group of people, most of them had an external marker that looked like abnormal moles. Although it does require a biopsy and diagnosis by a pathologist to confirm the BAP1 mutation, this discovery is important because it gives physicians something to make note of when looking at skin changes over time.
Since it is known that people with the BAP1 gene mutation are at higher risk for developing cancers including Melanoma and Mesothelioma, this gives physicians a visual marker to look out for. These mole-like spots are actually called Melanocytic BAP1-mutated atypical intradermal tumors (MBAITs). If patients notice skin changes that happen quickly or seem abnormal for them, it is important to see a physician to have the potential abnormality evaluated. The discovery of MBAITs could allow physicians to detect cancers earlier, which could give the patient a better long term outcome. This is just one more weapon in the arsenal scientists and researchers are developing to fight Mesothelioma and other deadly forms of cancer.