Attendees at a recent conference on asbestos litigation were advised to ask claimants about the history of cancer in families, and potentially then ask for a test because of the link between some mesothelioma cases and potential genetic factors.
Several studies published in recent years have linked a number of those suffering from less prevalent peritoneal mesothelioma to genetic factors, including gene rearrangement and mutation.
At the Perrin's National Trends in Asbestos Litigation Conference in San Francisco, those attending heard a panel discussion that included references to the link between BAP1 gene mutation and peritoneal mesothelioma, though the studies suggest it is a low number.
Michelle Potter, of consulting firm KCIC, which tracks and publishes the number of asbestos claims filed and other information on the litigation, referred to the panel discussion in a recent post on the company's website.
A co-panelist, Lisa Oberg from Dentons, raised the issue that mesothelioma can be caused by genetic factors.
According to Potter, Oberg cited figures showing that for claims from traditional asbestos exposure, 86 percent are pleural and 14 percent are peritoneal, and the average age of the claimant is 72.
Of those mesothelioma plaintiffs with the BAP1 gene, 50 percent are pleural and 50 percent are peritoneal, with an average age of 56.
It was argued that claimants should be asked if there is a history of cancers in the family, and if so, there is a greater likelihood that BAP1 gene is present.
"The goal for defendants should be to identify such cases as early as possible. If a claimant does not have traditional asbestos exposure and is relatively young, then it may be worth the investment to request the test for the BAP1 gene — to see if it points to this alternative cause of mesothelioma," Potter wrote in her post.
Potter also revealed the figures on asbestos filings over the last three years. Mesothelioma claims are decreasing at approximately five per cent a year, while lung cancer are constant. KCIC notes non-malignant claims change greatly from year to year.