Are blood tests useful to diagnose mesothelioma?

There are no specific blood tests that can tell your doctor you have mesothelioma. Certain blood cell values may be abnormal when a patient has mesothelioma, but these are nonspecific (that is, they do not definitively tell the doctor that is is mesothelioma or another type of cancer or a benign condition). The white blood cell count (cells that fight infection) may be elevated and/or the platelet count (cells that help the clotting system) may be elevated above normal values.

The liquid part of blood (serum) is partially comprised of dissolved proteins. Currently, there are no specific proteins in the serum that can tell your doctor you have asbestos or mesothelioma. Proteins that are specific to certain disease are called biomarkers. There is great interest in the discovery of these biomarkers, which may represent unique proteins from the tumor that appear early in the disease and increase as the disease progresses. Ask you physician whether any of these markers are under study or whether any have been approved by the FDA for the study of mesothelioma. These markers include soluble mesothelin related protein (SMRP) and osteopontin.