Molecular and Clinical Oncology. 2014 January.[Link]

Abe M, Hino O, Hirohashi T, Igarashi T, Maeda M

Department of Pathology and Oncology, School of Medicine, Juntendo University, Bunkyo-Ku, Tokyo 113-8421; Byotai-seiri Laboratory, Itabashi-Ku, Tokyo 173-0025; Immuno-Biological Laboratories, Co., Ltd., Fujioka-Shi, Gunma 375-0005, Japan


The early diagnosis of mesothelioma, an aggressive malignant tumor, is considered to be important for prognosis. X-ray is commonly used for the assessment of a mass in a population exhibiting a risk factor. However, there are currently no available studies indicating that such an assessment may be used to achieve early diagnosis and improve the patient’s outcome. We previously reported that N-ERC/mesothelin may be a useful blood tumor marker for mesothelioma. In order to investigate whether this tumor marker is useful for early diagnosis in a mass examination, in 2007 we initiated a 5-year large-scale screening of construction workers with a risk of asbestos exposure in Japan. Blood samples were collected annually and N-ERC/mesothelin levels were determined. Based on the results of those findings, along with medical history and related data, we screened the participants to identify a high-risk population. As a result, 62 subjects were identified among ~40,000 participants as the high-risk population. Two of these 62 participants subsequently developed mesothelioma, although the remaining participants have not yet developed mesothelioma. In conclusion, N-ERC/mesothelin may be useful as a blood tumor marker in the early diagnosis of mesothelioma in a mass examination. A future prospective study to confirm the findings of this research screening is currently under planning.