Study discovers longer patient survival rates in mesothelioma patients with hereditary mutations

October 30, 2018

HONOLULUMichele Carbone, MD, PhD, and his team at the University of Hawai‘i Cancer Center discovered that mesothelioma, a usually very aggressive cancer, is much less aggressive when detected in patients who carry hereditary mutations.

Michele Carbone, MD, PhD
Michele Carbone, MD, PhD

“On average patients who carry hereditary mutations and develop mesothelioma survive five to 10 years more than the majority of mesothelioma patients that survive for only six to 18 months. Understanding the genetic mutation that caused the cancer gives us hope that we can create new targeted therapies available for specific genetic alterations that can prolong the life of these patients even more,” said Carbone, principal investigator of the study.

Mesothelioma is a cancer that occurs in the thin layer of tissue that covers most of the internal organs, the disease is often caused by exposure to asbestos. The hereditary mutations also called germline mutations are gene changes in a body’s reproductive cell that becomes incorporated into the DNA of every cell in the body of the offspring. These mutations are passed on from parents to children according to the National Cancer Institute.

The study published in Journal of Clinical Oncology highlights the understanding of hereditary mutations, which can help physicians give patients a clearer idea of what they can expect from their diagnosis. Importantly, family members of patients who carry this gene can get screened to identify if they are carriers of the germline mutations. If they are carriers they can be monitored for early cancer detection.