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New Tool in the Radiography Approach Will Assist in Earlier Detection of Asbestos-Related Diseases

MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif., March 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Michael Harbut, M.D., MPH, co-director of the National Center for Vermiculite and Asbestos-Related Cancers (NCVAC) at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit, MI, and chief of the Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine Wayne State University, announced the use of a new technology to aid in the diagnosis of asbestos-related lung disease. The announcement was made at the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization's annual conference, Saturday, March 28, in Manhattan Beach, CA.


"Radiographic approaches developed by Carmen Endress, M.D., FACR, Associate Professor of Radiology, Wayne State University School of Medicine and radiologist at the NCVAC, allow us to visualize lesions caused by asbestos exposure in three dimensional detail and often at a much earlier stage than that of the current standard radiographic techniques," said Harbut.

This new approach involves taking images obtained on the 64-slice high resolution CT scan and enhancing them using the Vitrea(R) imaging software program developed by Vital Images, Inc.

Harbut explained, "The benefits of this new approach include the possibility of earlier detection; better differentiation between patients with scarring on the lungs and other diseases; assistance in determining why some people who have thickening on the covering of the lungs have uncontrolled, unrelenting pain; and potentially increased success in the overall diagnosis and treatment of asbestos-related disease."

According to Harbut, this approach could also have a significant public-health impact.

"If we can identify the 'sentinel' or first cases of asbestosis or lung cancer at an early stage, then we can help identify asbestos exposures in places where it might not have previously been suspected. Such identification of early detection could help to reduce the death rate from asbestos-related diseases."

Harbut added that this new technology approach to chest radiography could also help reduce cases of fraud which have been reported in asbestos litigation, due to the clarity and sophistication of the images that can help identify which cases are asbestos-related and which are not.

Dr. Endress added, "It's my sincere hope that with this new approach and enhanced technology we will help reduce the death rate caused by asbestos-related diseases, reduce the suffering by patients and their loved ones, and make a significant contribution to medicine."

The use of this technology in the diagnosis and treatment of asbestos-related cancers and high-malignancy potential asbestos-related diseases represents another first for Karmanos Cancer Institute scientists and physicians. Previously, NCVAC researchers were among the first to discover the value of osteopontin -- a tumor marker of mesothelioma -- and published this finding in the New England Journal of Medicine. Karmanos workers have also reported the potential value of soluble mesothelin-related peptide, another tumor marker, in screening for mesothelioma.

Michael Harbut, M.D., MPH, Chief of the Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine, is co-director of the National Center for Vermiculite and Asbestos-Related Cancers at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, in Detroit, MI. In response to the United States Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) identification of major sources of public asbestos exposure in Michigan, and to address the need for early diagnosis and aggressive treatment of asbestos-related diseases, the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute and the Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine (COEM) affiliated with Wayne State University, joined forces to establish The National Center for Vermiculite and Asbestos-Related Cancers (NCVAC). COEM has had a long interest in asbestos-related diseases and the Karmanos Cancer Institute is heavily involved in both clinical and basic research on asbestos-related cancers enabling the two centers to rapidly bring together the expertise and resources necessary to study the problem immediately.

About Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute

Located in mid-town Detroit, MI, the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute is one of 40 National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers in the United States. Caring for more than 6,000 new patients annually on a budget of $216 million, conducting more than 700 cancer-specific scientific investigation programs and clinical trials, the Karmanos Cancer Institute is among the nation's best cancer centers. Through the commitment of 1,000 staff, including nearly 300 faculty members, and supported by thousands of volunteer and financial donors, the Institute strives to prevent, detect and eradicate all forms of cancer. For more information call 1-800-KARMANOS or go to

Slide images related to this announcement can be available on request or seen at

SOURCE Karmanos Cancer Institute
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