Mesothelioma, a rare cancer related to the exposure asbestos, is one of the most difficult diseases to both diagnose and treat. However, scientists are now saying that the buildup of fluid in the chest of patients can help distinguish mesothelioma from lung cancer.

Because mesothelioma and lung cancer share similar respiratory symptoms, including fluid buildup, mesothelioma is often misdiagnosed. Now, researchers in Japan have been looking into whether genetic changes in a patient’s pleural fluid can be used to diagnose malignant pleural mesothelioma and distinguish it from lung cancer.

In a December 2011 article published in the journal Cancer Science, the scientists described a new technique of examining the pleural fluid for DNA methylation. DNA methylation is a biochemical process that involves modifying a strand of DNA.

The researchers collected pleural fluid from 39 malignant pleural mesothelioma patients, 46 lung cancer patients, 25 patients with benign asbestos pleurisy and 30 other subjects with varying illnesses. They then examined the pleural fluid in each of the subjects and discovered that the methylation ratios for certain genes were significantly higher for lung cancer patients than for those with mesothelioma, making it a valuable method of distinguishing one cancer from the other.

Roughly 3,500 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed yearly in the United States alone. Several others go unnoticed, but that might all change following the researchers’ discovery. Unfortunately though, there is still no cure for the asbestos-related disease, but there is a way to seek justice as a victim.

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed mesothelioma or has been exposed to asbestos, speak to a leading mesothelioma lawyer right away. You may be entitled to thousands, or even millions of dollars in compensation for your pain and suffering and mesothelioma attorneys will ensure that you obtain the full spectrum of damages you deserve.

There is only a small window period to seek treatment for mesothelioma, so don’t waste another moment before contacting a top mesothelioma attorney near you to discuss your options and file a claim. As an asbestos victim, have rights, and mesothelioma lawyers will do whatever it takes to ensure they are upheld.