CARDís free asbestos screening now includes autoimmune testing
August 20, 2019
The Center for Asbestos Related Disease (CARD) Clinic, located in Libby, Montana, is implementing a new component to the screening program for asbestos related diseases, called an ANA test. The new testing will affect anyone participating in the CARD Screening program beginning on or after Sept. 1, 2019.
ANA stands for antinuclear antibodies or autoantibodies. These antibodies form in the blood when the body mistakes its own cells and tissues as foreign material and starts fighting against itself. A positive ANA test indicates that these autoantibodies are present, but it does not necessarily mean that an autoimmune disease is present or that therapy is needed. ANAs are typically positive in people with diseases like systemic lupus or scleroderma, and research collaborations with the CARD Clinic have found that positive ANA results are correlated with Libby amphibole asbestos exposure. Research also suggests that positive ANA tests may occur more often in people who have a potentially painful form of the Libby lung disease, called Lamellar Pleural Thickening.
For those participating in asbestos health screening in Libby, ANA testing will be done using a small amount of blood drawn from your arm. The blood draw will be done at the hospital when you go for your asbestos screening single view chest x-ray. This ANA test will tell us whether you have any autoantibodies and will give us an idea of how many. If your test is positive, CARD Clinic staff will talk to you about an individualized patient plan. If it is negative, your test results will simply become a baseline for your healthcare team to monitor in the future.
The decision to add ANA testing to CARDís grant-funded screening program was based on results of research done over the past 15 years on autoimmune diseases and Libby amphibole asbestos exposure. Funding was approved by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).
"Adding ANA testing to the screening program has the potential to help many people and it is a direct result of our communityís willingness to participate in research," said Tracy McNew, Administrative and Research Director at CARD. "The CARD Clinic would like to thank the community for their continued support of and participation in our ongoing research programs. This addition is an example of how research leads to meaningful results." When detected early, many treatments are available for autoimmune diseases that can lead to improved quality of life and health outcomes. Furthermore, early detection of these antibodies may lead to improved management of asbestos related diseases as well.
For more information on the CARD Clinicís asbestos health screening program, please call 406-293-9274 or visit the CARD website www.libbyasbestos.org.