Archive for Outubro 2012

What Causes Mesothelioma?

What Causes Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a cancer that occurs in the mesothelium, a thin membrane encompassing the body’s internal organs and cavities. Mesothelioma is caused by asbestos exposure. Asbestos fibers that are inhaled through the mouth and nose may eventually become embedded in the lining of the lungs, causing harmful inflammation of the pleura and resulting in mesothelioma or asbestosis (scar tissue formation in the lungs). It has also been found that swallowing asbestos fibers could contribute to a form of the malignancy originating in the abdomen known as peritoneal mesothelioma. 

Mesothelioma generally results from occupational asbestos exposure but there are instances of environmental exposure that can also cause the disease. Oftentimes a family member can be affected indirectly by second hand exposure from an asbestos worker’s soiled work clothes. 

Asbestos was an effective insulation material. It was used liberally in commercial and industrial products in the United States until being regulated in a joint effort between the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency in 1989. Occupational exposure was common among workers who encountered these products in many industries including shipbuilding, power plants, and other industrial settings. 

Asbestos insulation workers appear to have the highest rate of asbestos related disease. One study reports that almost six percent of asbestos workers fall victim to mesothelioma or experience respiratory symptoms. Asbestos insulation workers are over 300 times more likely to be diagnosed with mesothelioma than those with no exposure history. 

How does exposure to asbestos cause mesothelioma? 
Asbestos fibers are microscopic, though they are also quite durable. For this reason, asbestos was used in a number of different industrial compounds to enhance strength and resistance to temperature extremes- two properties at which the mineral is highly adept. Asbestos exposure most often occurred among individuals who worked extensively with asbestos or asbestos-containing materials. Friable asbestos (meaning loose or airborne fibers) is easily inhaled- often without the exposed person realizing. When inhaled, asbestos lodges easily in the outer lung tissue and within the mesothelium. The mesothelium is a thin membrane of cells which produces a lubricating fluid on the surface of the organs. This lubricant allows the lung and other internal structures to expand, contract, and move freely without friction in the body cavity. There is a great deal of latency associated with mesothelioma between exposure to asbestos and the onset of symptoms. Over time (often 40 or 50 years) asbestos irritates this tissue, causing inflammation and malignant scar tissue plaques on the surface of the mesothelium. These plaques are the foundation of the mesothelioma tumor. 

Pleural mesothelioma is the most common variety of the disease and forms on the pleural membrane, which surrounds the lung and chest cavity. Peritoneal mesothelioma is less common and forms on the surface of the peritoneum, a thin membrane surrounding the abdominal cavity. Pericardial mesothelioma is the least common variety of the disease and forms in the cardiac cavity that envelops the heart, a mesothelial membrane known as the pericardium.

Inhaled asbestos fibers are known to be the cause of pleural mesothelioma, whereas ingested asbestos fibers are the cause of peritoneal mesothelioma. While the exact causal nature between asbestos and pericardial mesothelioma is not known, physicians and cancer researchers surmise asbestos fibers in the blood stream lodge in the outer layers of the heart’s ventricles and lodge in the pericardium. Once asbestos fibers reach the surface of the peritoneum or pericardium, the inflammation process is essentially the same as it is on the surface of the pleura. 

Primary workplace exposure to the mineral was common in naval shipyards, power plants, railroad infrastructure, and other industrial jobsites. However, asbestos-related mesotheliomas have also been diagnosed in spouses or children of those exposed to asbestos. Workers often brought home dangerous asbestos fibers on their clothing, hair, or person. Those who came into contact with these fibers on the person or their clothing have developed mesothelioma as a result. 

Other Contributing Factors
Mesothelioma is also causally associated with a few other factors, but many of these are attributed to the development of mesothelioma in conjunction with exposure to asbestos.

Those who smoke are at a higher risk of mesothelioma, though smoking is more commonly associated with traditional lung carcinomas. Smoking tends to enhance risk even further in those who were also exposed to asbestos. 

Radiation Exposure
While extremely rare, some mesothelioma patients attribute their diagnosis to exposure to radiation rather than exposure to asbestos. Radiation tends to transform and mutate cell growth patterns and is more commonly associated with brain and blood cancers. 

Carbon Nanotubes
Research is extremely preliminary in this study, but some laboratory studies indicate a molecular similarity between asbestos mineral fibers and carbon nanotubes. Tests indicate a pronounced risk of mesothelioma in some laboratory animals implanted with carbon nanotubes. 

What Should I do if I have been diagnosed with Mesothelioma?
Many of those diagnosed with mesothelioma wonder if asbestos exposure is to be blamed for their illness. Asbestos was used in thousands of commercial and industrial products. These include, but are not limited to roofing material, insulation compounds, joint compounds, cements, siding, floor and ceiling, tiles, glue, and any other product designed specifically to withstand heat and temperature extremes. If you worked with one of these products and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, it is highly likely asbestos is the cause of your illness. To help you in recovering costs for mesothelioma treatment as well as damages to assist your family, you should speak with a well-versed asbestos attorney to determine if you’re eligible for compensation. 

Court documents now indicate many of these product manufacturers were well aware of the hazards which asbestos posed but continued to endanger employees and the public by exposure to the mineral. To learn more about the relationship between asbestos exposure and mesothelioma, or to find out if you’re eligible for financial compensation for your illness, please fill out the brief form on this page. 

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Mesothelioma Risk Factors

What are the risk factors for malignant mesothelioma?
There are several risk factors that increase the likelihood that a person will develop mesothelioma. The primary risk factor is asbestos exposure. Exposure to this very harmful substance can significantly enhance the chances of contracting the disease. Smoking does not have a direct causal relationship with mesothelioma but is a significant compounding factor and increases the chances of developing the disease. Other less common secondary factors include exposure to radiation, zeolite, simian virus 40 (SV40) and erionite. We discuss each of these risk factors in more detail below. Please click on the links to learn more about each mesothelioma risk factor.

Exposure to Asbestos
Exposure to asbestos is the leading risk factor associated with mesothelioma. Asbestos is an insulating material comprised of magnesium-silicate mineral fibers. It was favored by builders and contractors for many years for its low heat conductivity and resistance to melting and burning. Since researchers have identified more and more links between mesothelioma and exposure to asbestos, the material is now less widely used. Prior to this discovery, however, millions of Americans have experienced serious exposure to this harmful substance.

Smoking and Mesothelioma 
Smoking alone is not linked to mesothelioma, but smokers who are exposed to asbestos have a much higher chance of developing asbestos lung cancer (as much as fifty to ninety percent higher) and as much as double the risk of developing mesothelioma.

Less Common 
Mesothelioma Risk Factors Radiation Thorium dioxide (Thorotrast), a substance used in x-ray tests in the past has reported links to pleural mesothelioma and peritoneal mesothelioma. The use of Thorotrast has been discontinued for many years due to this discovery.

Some mesothelioma cases in the Anatoli region within Turkey have been linked to Zeolite, a silica based mineral with chemical properties similar to asbestos found in the soil there.

Simian Virus 40 (SV40)
Some scientists have found the simian virus 40 (SV30) in mesothelioma cells from humans and have been able to create mesothelioma in animals with the virus. The relationship between this virus and mesothelioma is still unclear, however, and further research is being conducted to gain clarity on this potential link.

Erionite Exposure 
Erionite is a naturally occurring mineral that possesses properties that are very similar to those of asbestos. There have been several documented cases of mesothelioma in indivuduals living near large erionite deposits.

Carbon Nanotubes
Researchers continue to evaluate nanotube exposure as a possible risk factor for mesothelioma even though scientists have not expressed immediate concern. For more info visit

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What is Mesothelioma?

What is Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that affects the mesothelium – the thin, protective membrane that covers the lungs, heart and other internal body organs. The disease is most commonly caused by exposure to asbestos fibers.

Mesothelioma is a highly aggressive form of cancer that is usually resistant to standard cancer treatments. While there is no cure for mesothelioma, various clinical trials are studying the disease and several cases of remission have been reported. In addition, treatments are available that are effective at easing pain, suffering and symptoms, extend life expectancy and generally improve a patient’s quality of life.

Most mesothelioma patients may not even realize they have cancer until symptoms start to interfere with their daily lives. Symptoms generally don’t appear until at least 20 after someone was exposed to asbestos, and sometimes symptoms are hidden for as long as 50 years.

To help people understand mesothelioma, The Mesothelioma Center offers a complimentary packet with treatment options and details about the nation's top mesothelioma doctors and cancer centers. Get your packet sent to you overnight by filling in the form below.

Who Gets Mesothelioma?
People believed to be in the high risk category for getting mesothelioma are those who were exposed to asbestos on a regular basis (six months or more) while on the job. Among the list of occupations closely linked to mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases are:

  • Military veterans (especially the U.S. Navy) 
  • Construction workers Demolition or renovation crews Auto mechanics 
  • Insulators Shipyard workers 
  • Asbestos mine workers or millers Boiler workers 
  • Asbestos manufacturing plant workers 
People who remember handling asbestos or asbestos-like materials, or those who recall being exposed to thick clouds of asbestos-containing dust while on the job, are at a higher risk for developing mesothelioma. Recently, rescue workers and cleanup crews involved in the removal of debris from the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks in New York City have reported asbestos-related symptoms and lung complications.

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CNN mistakes mesothelioma for lung cancer

This is a pretty common mistake in the popular press – thinking mesothelioma is a form of lung cancer. In mesothelioma, the tumor is on the mesothelium, which is the lining of the pleural cavity. In lung cancer, the tumor is in the lung tissue.

In this case, the story was on Dana Reeve, the widow of Christopher Reeve, who died of lung cancer at age 44. Most (but not all) cases of lung cancer can be attributed to smoking. In the popular imagination, all lung cancer patients smoked, but that is not necessarily true.

Dana Reeve said she never smoked, but she got cancer anyway. The CNN story says “other factors associated with lung cancer include exposure to asbestos or fine airborne particulates.” I understand that journalists don’t want to spend time and space explaining that asbestos causes mesothelioma, which is not the same as lung cancer, but it still sometimes irks me.

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Sequential Chemotherapy has an article about trying to find an effective chemotherapy regimen for mesothelioma. This is such an intractable form of cancer and resists forms of therapy that are effective for other cancers: radiation, surgery, simple chemotherapy.

The cutting edge of mesothelioma treatment involves combinaton therapy: more than one treatment. There’s a study out of Italy where they treated patients with sequential chemotherapy, where one drug (or group of drugs) is given for a while followed by the another group of drugs.

In this trial they used cisplatin plus gemcitabine, followed by mitoxantrone, methotrexate, and mitomycin. They got good results. The median survival was 13 months and 63% of the patients were still alive after one year. Now this is only one study, and the results weren’t miraculous, but they are encouraging and more evidence that combination therapy is generally the best way to go.

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Grassroots lobbying for mesothelioma patients

In Scotland there is a movement to eliminate a legal loophole in asbestos-exposure cases. The current law gives the most compensation to victims’ families after they die. If the new effort succeeds, people could get larger settlements while they are still alive. The newspaper The Herald reports that “Hugh Henry, the deputy justice minister, is to meet campaigners on mesothelioma, a fatal and increasingly common form of illness caused by the dust, and is expected to tell them he backs their cause.”

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Australian official notes poor record on mesothelioma

This story from The Age notes that government official Richard Marles refers Australia having the most sufferers of mesothelioma per capita in the world. ” “In many respects Australia is lagging behind other parts of the world and we need to lift our game,” Mr Marles said.”

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Needle-track metastases and prophylactic radiotherapy for mesothelioma

There is an article in the journal Respiratory Medicine about mesothelioma tumors extending along the area where the doctors insert instruments for diagnosis and treatment. These researchers were able to prevent the metastases by applying targeted radiotherapy with no catheter damage. Encouraing news.

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Piroxicam and Cisplatin Show Promise Against Mesothelioma Cells

Piroxicam, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), has shown anti-tumoral activity which is amplified when combined with Cisplatin.

Researchers used two mesothelioma cell lines and treated cells with piroxicam and cisplatin alone then combined the two treatments.

Cell growth was significantly limited in both lines and treatment with either agent appeared to disrupt cell cycle phase distribution and expression of some regulatory proteins.

Their effects were significantly increased when used as a combination therapy. In one of the cell lines they appeared to create a synergistic effect on apoptosis (likely through the activation of caspase 8,9).

The data suggests that a combination of piroxicam and cisplatin should warrant further investigation because of their effects on apoptosis and cell cycles.

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Data Supports Further Investigation of Mesothelioma Virotherapy

Oncolytics Biotech presented data that indicates malignant mesothelioma cells are sensitive to certain viruses. Their presentation titled “Combination Immunotherapy and Oncolytics Virotherapy for the Treatment of Malignant Mesothelioma” discussed in vitro data showing mesothelioma cells could be suitable targets for reoviruses which could then attack and compromise them.

The company currently has 7 ongoing phase I and phase II trials though none are currently for mesothelioma patients. Reoviruses, which the company is investigating, are generally gastrointestinal infections with the most common form being the rotavirus.

The goal of virotherapy is to isolate and reprogram viruses to only attack cancerous cells. It is still a relatively undeveloped field within cancer research but progress is being made.

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Mesothelioma Patterns in the United States

A recent study sheds some insight into the background rates of mesothelioma over the past several decades in the United States. The study looked at patterns for males and females in five age groups. According to the study performed by Exponent Inc., a health sciences practice in New York City, mesothelioma rates remained relatively constant for young individuals. 

Rates of older age groups declined overtime and male rates were about five times greater than female rates for individuals 60 years of age and older. Overall rates of mesothelioma were higher among large shipyard areas located on the West Coast. In total, the background rate of the deadly cancer was found to be around one individual per million for the American citizens below the age of 50. Estimations for older ages will require additional studies. The data for the study was collected via the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) registry and pertains to data collected between 1973 and 2002. 

SEER is a program dedicated to collecting and publishing cancer cases and survival data. The data they collect is exhaustive, and encompasses 26 percent of the United States population. The program has also taken considerable measures to unify the network of cancer registry systems so that population-based data may be more easily accessible. It is this accessibility that allowed the researchers to investigate these mesothelioma trends. 


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Esophageal Stents As a Palliative Care Measure for Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma, a cancer that invades the wall lining of the lungs and other internal organs, is a particularly difficult type of cancer to treat. Almost universally related to the inhalation of asbestos particles, treatment of advanced stages of the disease is largely palliative.

Palliative health care refers to the focus of relieving symptoms and pain as opposed to taking steps to eliminate the illness. In many advanced cases of mesothelioma, patients experience a difficulty swallowing. The medical term for such a symptom is dysphagia. 

As the mesothelioma tumor spreads from the lungs to the esophagus, the tumor can reduce the diameter of the air pathway. In some cases, this reduced ability to breath and swallow is the direct cause of death. In an effort to assuage dysphagia, prolong survival and reduce discomfort, a recent study performed at the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery in Derriford Hospital points to esophageal stents as a potential treatment. 

A case report published in the January 25, 2008 Journal of Cardiothoracic Surgery details the success of self-expanding esophageal stents on patience with mesothelioma. In the three patient cases discussed in the report, all three patients achieved immediate satisfactory reduction in dysphagia. However, progressive dysphagia resurfaced 1 to 6 months later. In such cases further stenting is required to open up a larger portion of the esophagus.

As dysphagia is usually an end-case symptom, patients are not expected to survive a considerable length of time as a result of the stents. However, the primary goal of the procedure is to relieve pain and improve quality of life for the patient. 


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Mesothelioma in Pets Can Provide Insight Into New Treatments

Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that accounts for approximately one percent of all cancer deaths worldwide. The cancer is caused through the inhalation of asbestos – a naturally occurring fiber that is often used for insulation or heat-resistant purposes. 

Just as asbestos exposure affects human health, so too does it affect the health of pets and companion animals. In rare cases, asbestos exposure among dogs and cats does occur. Sadly, such exposure may eventually lead to mesothelioma. 

Prolonged breathing problems, coughing or difficulty breathing witnessed in a dog or cat may be warning signs of mesothelioma. If a family member works around asbestos, fibers may remain on their clothing when they come home. These fibers may be inhaled or licked by the pet. Additionally, asbestos has been commonly used in building construction, and may be present in home walls. When mesothelioma in pets occurs, it is of course a tragedy. 

However, these pets may serve as important pioneers in new mesothelioma treatments. Oftentimes, these dogs and cats undergo experimental mesothelioma treatments that may one day be approved for use in humans. One such study, reported in the May 2008 issue of the Journal of Experimental & Clinical Cancer Research, found promising results for a mesothelioma treatment regimen that combined the use of piroxicam and platinum-based intracavity chemotherapy. 

Three companion animals took place in the study – two dogs and one cat. All participants experienced variable remission times. Most notably, one dog continues to be in remission three years following treatment. This is incredibly promising, given the fact that most human patients to do not survive more than a year following a mesothelioma diagnosis. 

The other dog survived for eight months following treatment, while the cat survived 6 months. While this is less encouraging, treatment did result in a 90 percent reduction in excessive fluid buildup. The researchers who published the paper suggest that the treatment results are promising enough to warrant future tests in animals, and possibly humans.

However, they note that mesothelioma is more likely to follow a benign course of advancement in dogs than in humans. This may be a hidden factor in the 3-year survival time of the one canine participant. 


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Making National Mesothelioma Awareness Day A Reality

Since 2005, the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (MARF) has promoted September 26 as Mesothelioma Awareness Day. The day is meant to serve as both a day to honor and remember those who have suffered from this rare lung disease, as well as promote awareness so that future generations might see fewer instances of the illness. 

In an effort to bring further awareness, mesothelioma advocates have been pushing to have the day recognized by the U.S. government as a national day of awareness. A bill linked to this goal – H. Res. 771 – is scheduled to be added to the legislative calendar for the House of Representatives. If passed and signed by the president, it would serve as a major victory for raising awareness about the hazards of asbestos – the natural fiber that has been linked to mesothelioma formation when inhaled into the lungs. 

To help bring national awareness, MARF is urging people to get involved to help raise awareness for making Mesothelioma Awareness Day official in your city, state or country. Ways that individuals can help include: 

  • Contact your city council and ask what needs to be done in order to get a proclamation declaring September 26 as Mesothelioma Awareness Day 
  • Contact your state governor’s office and ask for a permanent State resolution 
  • Contact House representatives and senators in your state to ask for national recognition 
  • Contact local media about proclamations and ask them to help raise awareness 
  • Get the word out by presenting the proclamation to surrounding communities 
Regardless of national recognition, September 26 has come to be a special and important day for those personally affected by mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a rare lung disease that has no cure. An estimated 2,000 to 3,000 Americans die from the illness each year.

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Survival Statistics and Prognosis for Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a rare lung cancer that has been linked to the inhalation of asbestos. While each case of mesothelioma is unique, the general prognosis for the illness is poor. However, the ultimate outlook for a patient will vary depending on the type of mesothelioma he or she has been diagnosed with, as well as other factors. 

Survival Averages for Mesothelioma Like most cancers, the survival rate of mesothelioma can vary depending on the stage in which it is diagnosed. Unfortunately, the nature of the illness typically results in late-stage diagnosis. As one might expect, this reduces the average length of suvival. This fact, combined with the fact that mesothelioma is a rare disease, has resulted in a lack of reliable statistics beyond 5-year survival rates. 

However, there is a fair amount of statistics present for shorter diagnostic time frames. From the date of diagnosis, the general prognosis for a mesothelioma patient is in the range of 12 to 14 months of survival.

If the cancer is caught early enough to warrant surgical removal of the tumor, then this time frame may be extended. Regardless of the initial prognosis, statistics show that: 

  • 4 out of 10 mesothelioma patients survive more than one year past diagnosis 
  • 2 out of 10 mesothelioma patients survive more than two years past diagnosis
  • 1 out of 10 mesothelioma patients survive more than three years past diagnosis 
  • 8 out of 100 mesothelioma patients survive more than five years past diagnosis 
Again, these statistics are generalizations. Factors such as patient age, health and extent of cancer growth can all affect survival rates significantly.

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Improving Adoption Rates of Orphan Drugs for Mesothelioma and Other Rare Diseases

Recently, research on a promising drug for a disease that currently affects 1,500 people in the United States annually was halted due the financial reasons, according to Peter Saltonstall of the National Organization for Rare Diseases. The root of these financial reasons stems from the cost of research versus the expected amount of profits that the pharmaceutical company can expect over the long term. Saltonstall declines to name the particular illness in question, but the identity is hardly important. 

Such financial issues have long been a difficulty when it comes to spurring interest in research for virtually all rare diseases. Sadly, drug development is a profit-driven business – a fact that has long proven detrimental to “small potatoes” illnesses that affect less than 200,000 people annually. However, it should be noted that combined, more than 7,000 rare diseases affect 20 to 30 million people in the United States each year. In an effort to improve interest in such research, the United States passed the Orphan Drug Act (ODA) in 1983.

The ODA serves to increase incentives for pharmaceutical companies to pursue research within the rare disease sector. Such incentives include federally funded grants, tax credits on costs associated with clinical trials and a 7-year exclusive marketability of any drugs that eventually come to market. In a lot of ways, the ODA has been very successful. Since 1983, the FDA has approved 357 rare-disease drugs. Additionally, 2,100 products entered the testing pipeline. In comparison, only 10 drugs for rare disease achieved FDA-approval prior to the Act. However, many experts on the subject claim additional measures need to be taken. 

The Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Orphan Products Designation is responsible for reviewing studies that may or may not be eligible for orphan status. According to Tom Cote, who heads the department, “[Pharmaceutical companies] frequently come out with press releases saying how important orphan products are to them…[but] they infrequently pass anything substantive over my desk.” In an effort to further bolster interest in rare diseases, a 2010 appropriations bill is calling for a review process for orphan drugs. 

The review may result in additional measures that can decrease the cost of cancer research for rare illnesses. For example, initiating statistical models that require fewer patient participants may drop research costs significantly. Of course, the concern is that shallower pools of data may reduce the efficacy of results. Still, Cote is willing to be flexible when it comes to spurring initial research. 

As a complement to the proposed revisions, the FDA is already attempting to spur interest by holding on-site workshops that help provide guidance for maximizing current ODA incentives. Hopefully, these and other measures will result in a renewed interest in research for rare diseases. 


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New Diagnostic Technique Could Result in Test for Mesothelioma

Reuters is reporting a new blood test that could identify mesothelioma at an early stage. The biotech company Somalogic, which specializes in developing diagnostic tests, announced a new technology that could allow doctors to identify mesothelioma in patients before they show visible symptoms.

Somalogic scientists used blood samples from mesothelioma patients and were able to develop aptameters (oligonucleic acid or peptide molecules) that bind to proteins expressed by mesothelioma cells. These biomarkers are present in the blood at extremely low concentrations, so conventional chemical analysis cannot find them.

The use of proteomics array technology and genetic material specific to the protein allows discovery of the disease early in its development. According to HealthDay News, Somalogic scientists identified 19 biomarkers for mesothelioma. They found a specificity of 100% for those markets. Sensitivity was 80%. If these numbers hold through further development, the diagnostic process would be able to identify the large majority of mesothelioma cases with some false positives.

If this technology proves reliable it could be used in a screening process for people with a history of asbestos exposure. Asbestos is known to cause mesothelioma, but the latency period is very long and the symptoms often don’t manifest until the disease has progressed to a point at which treatment options are limited. Early discovery of mesothelioma would give doctors and patients more options and improve the prognosis of those afflicted with this cancer. 

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Lung Cancer Patients Get Unequal Treatment

A new study from the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston found that patients who go to public hospitals for lung cancer care get less effective treatments than those who go to expensive cancer-oriented hospitals. The study also showed that patients who receive their care from public hospitals were nine times more likely to have severe symptoms when they check in for treatment than those who attend cancer centers such as MD Anderson. 

The study examined the care in two Houston public hospitals, one Miami public hospital, and MD Anderson, one of the most respected cancer care centers in the world. Dr. Charles Cleeland, the study’s author, said that the disparity of care between public hospitals and cancer centers has existed “for the last couple of decades”. He also noted that lung cancer care “is less well managed” for patients who are poor, unemployed, members of minority groups or those that have little to no health insurance. 

The number of public hospital patients experiencing symptoms before admitting themselves for care was nearly double that of cancer center patients. The study, which followed the patients’ progress for two months, showed major differences in the quality of care between the cancer center and the public hospitals. Dr. Cleeland said that patients in public hospitals that were displaying symptoms were “not being corrected”. Dr. Cleeland also noted that the reasons for the differences in care between public hospitals and well-known cancer centers are “very complex”. “I don’t think it’s the intention of those caring for those folks,” he said. However, he did cite that the lack of access to technical resources or cancer specialists for those underserved patients might be some of the reasons behind the disparity. A similar study conducted at the University of North Carolina found that African Americans are less likely than Caucasian patients to opt for surgery to remove lung tumors. Surgical tumor removal is often the most effective treatment in the early stages of the disease. Dr. Samuel Cykert, the UNC study’s author, attributed the differences to “unintended biases in physicians”. Dr. Cykert mentioned that doctors who work with underserved patients “would be less apt to recommend surgery” than they would for patients who could afford the procedure. “Advocating for oneself is very important,” Dr. Cykert said. “Being passive is bad.” The two doctors do agree on treating symptoms early, rather than allowing them to worsen before seeking help. Dr. Cleeland stressed that doctors, nurses and other health care professionals need to help patients with the symptoms of their lung cancer as much as with treating the cancer itself. “I think we need to strategize about how to help them (underserved patients)”, he said. “This (study) is characterizing their experience.” According to public health officials, 62 out of every 100,000 adults will be diagnosed with lung cancer each year.

Underserved patients are more likely to engage in cigarette smoking, the primary cause of lung cancer in America, and are also more likely to die from lung cancer. 


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World’s First Cancer-Killing Pill May be Available Within the Decade

Thanks to advancement made possible through the Human Genome Project, British researchers believe the world’s first cancer-killing pill may be on the horizon. According to the team’s timeline, such a pill may be available in as few as ten years. The success of this future pill will work by exploiting a specific gene flaw that is present in cancer’s DNA. In lab tests, the British team was able to show that a mutation of specific cancer cells effectively blocked the disease’s ability to repair damaged genetic material. As such, a pill or injection could potentially be made that switches on this mutation and shuts down important repair mechanisms that cause the illness to grow uncontrollably. Since such a drug would not affect the health of normal human cells, it is believed that treatment will not only be more effective, but also result in far fewer side effects. A research team led by Professor Ghulam Mufti at Kings College London announced the findings on October 24th. 

Mufti summed up the findings by saying, “The genetics of cancers are being rapidly unraveled. We are soon going to have a library of what genetic abnormalities lead to which cancers. If these are specific, we can target these abnormalities using new treatments.” Many researchers not affiliated with the study agree that all cancers are moving towards a targeted treatment process. Thanks in large part to the Human Genome Project, various research teams are now identifying potential genetic markers that may eventually lead to a cure for cancer. One of the first of such drugs is currently being tested at the Breakthrough Breast Cancer 

Research Centre in London. This drug works in exactly the same manner as described by Mulfti – by altering a tumor’s cells so they cannot successfully repair DNA properly. In early trials, the research team was able to show that breast cancer cells are killed while healthy cells are largely unaffected. The team also notes a complete lack of noticeable side effects. Similar methods are also currently in the works for curing such illnesses as cystic fibrosis. Current medical trials that utilize gene therapy could lead to an effective cystic fibrosis treatment in as little as five years. 


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New Mesothelioma Research Could Mean Longer Life For Patients

Promising new research indicates that mesothelioma may one day be treated with advances in something called photodynamic therapy. Our mesothelioma lawyers read with interest the announcement made by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania. To understand why this medical research news has caused a stir, you need to know that mesothelioma is a devastating disease. It takes many years to develop, but when it is ultimately diagnosed, it's always fatal. Patients rarely live more than a year or so beyond diagnosis. That's what makes further mesothelioma research so critical - and what makes the results of this study particularly exciting. Here's what we know, as indicated in a university press release: The Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania reported "unusually long" survival rates for mesothelioma sufferers who underwent photodynamic therapy (also sometimes called PDT). Now, "long" is a relative term when we're talking about mesothelioma. The researchers reported that the individuals who were treated by PDT were living as many as two years longer than those who weren't. Dr. Joseph Friedberg, co-director of the university's Mesothelioma and Pleural Program and the lead researcher of this study, said he does not consider this a cure. Further, he doesn't consider anything short of a cure to be a victory against this devastating asbestos-related disease. However, the findings of this study have prompted the university to dedicate even more funding to further research of mesothelioma treatments. We're talking about one of the deadliest - and most aggressive - forms of cancer that currently exists. It is almost exclusively caused by some form of asbestos exposure, which in the vast majority of cases happened decades earlier. However, once a person is actually diagnosed, they have sadly lost any hope of long-term survival. In fact, some 40 percent of patients don't live beyond one year. The most common form of treatment is a major, invasive surgery to remove all or part of a mesothelioma victim's lung, followed by intense, whole-chest radiation and chemotherapy treatments. Even then, the person isn't likely to live more than a couple years. Previous research by the university indicated that lung-sparing surgery, combined with this PDT, yielded better results than other currently available treatments. What these researchers did was treat 38 mesothelioma victims with surgery that kept the lung in tact, combined with PDT, a light-based treatment. Of those 38 patients, all but one were deemed to be in the advanced stages (that is, 3 or 4) of the cancer's development. Prior to the study, it was estimated that the patients would live an average of 31.7 months. However, at a follow-up a few months later, doctors increased that survival rate approximation to 34.4 months. What it actually ended up being was 41.2 months. This is extremely encouraging. The doctors said that while of course they are ultimately seeking a cure, the main goal at this point is to extend the patients' lives as much as possible, and to further to improve the patient's quality of life during their remaining months and years. By enacting a treatment that allows the patient to keep both lungs, not only is his or her quality of life improved, but it also means the patient is going to be more likely to be physically able to withstand treatments over a longer period of time. While this is all great news, it's important for mesothelioma sufferers to also seek legal counsel, mainly on behalf of their families. Because this disease is so devastatingly fast in its progression, it's possible that patients may not live long enough to see the outcome of the case. However, they may take some comfort and solace in knowing that not only is it possible to make the company or companies responsible for their illness pay, but their loved ones may be taken care of in their absence.

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Chris Knighton establishes tissue bank for mesothelioma research in UK

After losing her husband Mick to asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma in 2001, Chris Knighton vowed that his death would not be in vain. Since then, she has become one of the UK’s most renowned activists for raising mesothelioma awareness and has earned more than £1m on behalf of the Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund. However, her efforts do not stop there. On June 28, 2012, a ground-breaking new research project will be unveiled in London – The Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Bank UK. This bank will not only help scientists complete their innovative studies into asbestos cancer, but has already been partnered with the British Lung Foundation to hold research samples of tissue and blood from people with mesothelioma. While there are similar banks to this in the United States and Australia, this will be the first within the UK. “When we first started, we aimed to raise £100,000 to fund one study. Now we have funded four research studies and this new project,” Chris Knighton told ChronicleLive. “Mesothelioma has affected the lives of many families in the North East due to the legacy of heavy industries on the rivers Tyne, Wear and Tees. Recent figures show that many more people will be diagnosed with asbestos in the future. We feel this is the perfect opportunity to raise awareness about mesothelioma and to highlight the progress that has been made over recent years to find ways of treating the disease.” For more information about the Mick Knighton Fund, visit

Source: ChronicleLive

asbestos, Chris Knighton, mesothelioma, Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Bank U.K., Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund

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Lend Your Hand Campaign

With Mesothelioma Awareness Day approaching fast, we wanted to do something a little different this year. On 9/17, we launched our "Lend Your Hand" campaign. The campaign is simple. We are asking people to literally lend their hands to the cause! It can be a message of support, a person’s name whom you wish to honor, or a simple message of hope for ALL cancer patients, not just mesothelioma. Submit it in one of TWO ways: Submit it through the campaign page OR via Twitter or Instagram by tagging @canceralliance and “#lendyourhand”. After you submit your photo, let your friends know about the campaign so they can participate & vote too. The photos with the most votes will receive an MCA gift bag! Please lend us your hand and help raise awareness of Mesothelioma. Photos can be submitted through Mesothelioma Awareness Day on 9/26. Join Heather Von St. James as she shares information about her personal battle with mesothelioma and her triumphant victory over the disease. Follow Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist, Gary Cohn, as he writes a series of articles on the global health and policy issues that matter most in these changing times. Follow Doug as he reflects on his personal experiences in the U.S. Navy and issues confronting all veterans today. Follow Attorney Lucarelli as she discusses the latest trends in asbestos litigation and offers insights on mesothelima advocacy based on her work with over 1,000 mesothelioma victims around the country. Contact us if you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and we will send you a comprehensive mesothelioma information packet free of charge within 24 hours. 

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Detroit demolition plan halted due to asbestos concerns

Representatives from the City of Detroit, Michigan, meant well, but nearly put lives in danger recently with plans to demolish around 3,000 dilapidated homes and other buildings in a blighted area. The project, whose ultimate goal was to remove 10,000 dangerous abandoned buildings over the next four years and eliminate risks like collapse, fire and disease, was featured in the local newspaper, the Detroit Free Press. As it turned out, someone from the state Department of Natural Resources and Environment was reading, and the story raised a red flag. After a quick investigation, DNRE spokesman Robert McCann told the Free Press the agency discovered the City had not completed required asbestos inspections on the properties scheduled for demolition. The City also had not notified the state – which is required by law – of the planned demolition. The planned project was halted April 5, and City officials met with DNRE representatives to learn what they should do. According to the Free Press, representatives from the City said they were unaware they were violating any federal regulations, and said the City has not had a history of inspecting buildings for the presence of asbestos before demolition under past administrations. The current Mayor is Dave Bing. Some demolition occurred before DNRE officials were able to call a halt; however, subsequent asbestos testing did not find any asbestos present. The project is under the direction of the City’s Buildings and Safety Engineering Department. The houses planned for demolition are located in southwest Detroit. The City still plans to demolish 3,000 structures by the end of this year, and 10,000 structures during the next four years. Federal regulations require that businesses or individuals planning demolition first test the structure for the presence of asbestos, remove any asbestos that is found using approved abatement procedures to ensure the safety of workers and the public, and provide a 10-day notice to the DNRE before beginning demolition. Violations could incur fines of up to $27,500 per day, and jail time. It was not noted in the Free Press story if the City is in danger of being prosecuted for its violations. However, public interest in the story did raise awareness about the dangers of asbestos exposure, which can result in mesothelioma, a deadly cancer that affects the lining of the chest and lungs, the lining of the abdomen, or the lining of the heart. As a result of reader interest, the newspaper published a helpful Q&A about asbestos exposure the following day.

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Mesothelioma Awareness Day

It’s Mesothelioma Awareness Day! Today, we wanted to bring you some facts about mesothelioma and asbestos. As awareness builds, so does hope for all mesothelioma patients. We hope you will help us to spread the word. Please visit our Facebook Page for more facts that you can share. Asbestos Facts: Asbestos has been declared a “known human carcinogen,” having been commonly associated with asbestos cancer.The peak of asbestos use occurred from the late 1930s through the end of the 1970s.Though anyone who was exposed to asbestos can develop asbestos-related diseases, US Navy veterans who served during World War II and the Korean Conflict have the highest incidence of these diseases.Some 30 million pounds of asbestos are still used each year in the United States.The number one cause of occupational cancer in the United States is asbestos, even more than 30 years after its use was essentially halted. Asbestos accounts for 54 percent of all occupational cancers, according to the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization.Since asbestos guidelines were issued in 1979, approximately 45,000 Americans have died of asbestos-related diseases, including asbestosis and mesothelioma.10,000 Americans will die this year of asbestos-related diseases (including lung cancer and mesothelioma cancer) and 200,000 are currently living with asbestosis.Asbestos is still mined in several countries throughout the world, including Canada, and is exported to many industrialized and developing countries.Asbestos can still be found in many homes, schools, and commercial or industrial buildings.Asbestos was once used in more than 3,000 consumer products, including common household items such as toasters and hair dryers, some of which may still be in use. Check out our page on Asbestos Facts for more info. Mesothelioma Facts: Mesothelioma cancer is a rare disease that attacks the cells of the tissue that lines the body cavity called the mesothelium. Its only known cause is exposure to asbestos fibers.The first diagnosis of mesothelioma that was conclusively linked to asbestos exposure was made in 1964.The number of mesothelioma cases is expected to peak worldwide around the year 2020.The symptoms of mesothelioma can sit dormant in the body from 20-50 years after initial exposure to asbestos.Among all mesothelioma cases, 75% occur within the lining of the lungs.New cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed in between 2,500 and 3,000 Americans each year.The first diagnosis of mesothelioma typically occurs in men and women between the ages of 50 and 70 years.Mesothelioma is much more common in men than women, due mostly to occupational asbestos exposure being more common among men of industrial labor sites.Recent evidence suggests that mesothelioma incidence in women may rise in the coming years as secondary exposures to asbestos can manifest in the form of a positive mesothelioma diagnosis. Check out our page on Mesothelioma Cancer for more info. Join Heather Von St. James as she shares information about her personal battle with mesothelioma and her triumphant victory over the disease. Follow Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist, Gary Cohn, as he writes a series of articles on the global health and policy issues that matter most in these changing times. Follow Doug as he reflects on his personal experiences in the U.S. Navy and issues confronting all veterans today. Follow Attorney Lucarelli as she discusses the latest trends in asbestos litigation and offers insights on mesothelima advocacy based on her work with over 1,000 mesothelioma victims around the country. Contact us if you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and we will send you a comprehensive mesothelioma information packet free of charge within 24 hours.

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5 Ways to Deal with the Uncertainty of Cancer

Whether dealing with skin cancer, lung cancer or mesothelioma, dealing with the uncertainty of this disease can be terrible. Even if you are in remission from your cancer, there is always the uncertainty of whether or not it will ever come back. Knowing that your cancer might appear again in your body can be extremely terrifying. However, it is important not to focus entirely on what may or may not happen. You have to learn ways to deal with the uncertainty of cancer so that you can live a normal and healthy life. Here are five ways that can help you deal with the uncertainty of cancer. Dealing with the uncertainty of cancer can leave you feeling very stressed, so you have to learn some relaxation techniques to calm yourself down. For example, you can practice deep breathing exercises. When you are in a quiet room, breathe in very deeply and fill your stomach with air. Then, slowly let the air out by exhaling. Doing deep breathing exercises should help relax you. It is a good idea to eat a healthy diet. Eating a balanced diet will not only help you feel better; it will also improve your health and may prevent certain cancers from coming back. For example, breast cancer is more likely to reoccur in women who are obese and do not consume many fruits and vegetables. Make sure to fill your diet with vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean meats and low-fat dairy products. Try to limit your consumption of junk foods like pizza, chips and cake. Although exercising is not proven to prevent or cure cancer, it can still reduce your anxiety, improve your mood and reduce symptoms of nausea, fatigue and pain. Try to exercise for 30 minutes each day. Do activities you enjoy like walking, biking or yoga. If you start to feel tired or weak as you are exercising, you should stop until you feel better. There is no shame in seeking therapy if you are worried about your cancer. Talking to a professional counselor can help you express your feelings and learn how to cope with your anxiety. A counselor can help you gain control of your life and teach you different ways to deal with your cancer. You can also consider going to a support group meeting so that you can be around others who know how you feel. It is important to get enough rest at night. Allowing your body to sleep at least eight hours each night will help you recover from stressful events so that you feel better. Dealing with cancer will not always be easy, but it does not have to make your life miserable. If you follow these tips, you will feel better about yourself and worry less about the uncertainty of cancer.

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University theatre, library closed for asbestos removal

The G. R. Little Theatre and the north and south wings of the G.R. Little Library on the campus of Elizabeth City State University in Elizabeth City, NC, are closed until mid-April while crews remove asbestos from the facilities. According to a report by staff writer Kristin Pitts, which appears in the Daily Advance, the asbestos removal is part of a planned renovation that will make the existing facilities more energy efficient. The university is in compliance with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines for safe asbestos removal.

According to the news report, university spokeswoman Kesha Williams says that other ECSU buildings could potentially contain asbestos, as the material was commonly used in construction prior to the 1970s. However, the material is generally not dangerous unless it is disturbed. The university was proactive in securing an asbestos abatement company to safely remove the existing asbestos during its remodeling of the library and theatre buildings.

During processes like remodeling and demolition, materials containing asbestos may release microscopic fibers that can be inhaled into the lungs. Inhaled asbestos fibers may cause asbestosis, a severe scarring of the lungs, or mesothelioma, a deadly cancer that may affect the lining of the chest and lungs, the abdomen, or, more rarely, the heart.

The news report says Clean Air Environmental, Inc., a Winston-Salem based company, has been contracted to remove the asbestos from the library and theatre buildings. Project manager Omar Martinez told the paper that the company is currently completing the second phase of what it expects will be a three-part asbestos removal process. He told the reporter that the company is using “negative airs and amended water to capture any [asbestos] fibers” and workers double-bag hazardous materials and properly dispose of the hazardous waste to ensure the safety of workers, students and others on campus in the area of the project.

Energy-saving equipment planned for the library and theatre buildings include new lighting fixtures and an upgraded heating, ventilation and air conditioning unit.
Tags: asbestos, asbestos abatement, asbestos fibers, asbestos removal, asbestosis, Clean Air Environmental, Elizabeth City State University, EPA, Inc., mesothelioma, North Carolina, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010 at 12:49 pm and is filed under Events, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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UK meso survivor Debbie Brewer featured in Plymouth paper as story of hope

It has been a difficult year for many in the mesothelioma family. Many have lost loved ones, or are facing a scary diagnosis. But 2009 also held a lot of good news. To illustrate that, I’d like to share a news article about our great friend in the UK, Debbie Brewer. Just after Christmas, Debbie was featured on the front page of The Herald
, a newspaper that covers the Plymouth area. The paper describes Plymouth as a “hotspot for asbestos-related deaths.”
In the feature, Debbie talks about how she moved from what was presented to her as a death sentence to her new outlook of happiness, hope and survival. Debbie was diagnosed in November 2006, at which time she thought she might be seeing her last Christmas. Doctors estimated she had only six to nine months to live.

As most of you know, Debbie refused to accept the prognosis that she had only months to live, instead actively seeking alternative medical treatments that might take a fresh look at her cancer and provide her with new options. Primarily, she found Prof. Thomas Vogl at the University Clinic in Frankfurt, Germany, who administers a therapy called chemoembolization. In this therapy, chemotherapy drugs are introduced directly to the tumor area through a catheter into the lung.

Because the treatment is still in clinical trial stages, Debbie had to travel to Germany for each treatment, not available in the UK, and paid for travel expenses and medical care from her own pocket. However, results were amazing, and Debbie’s tumor shrunk by more than 80 percent, putting her in full remission.

Despite a recent setback, when a September check-up showed cancer in her lymph node had increased in size (the tumor in her lung remains stable), she is optimistic. She lobbies energetically for mesothelioma and asbestos awareness, and also to bring chemoembolization to the UK so that more people might try this new therapy that has shown so much success in her case.

The paper quotes Debbie as saying, “Christmas is the time of year I celebrate being here. ”

We love you, Debbie, and we are SO glad to celebrate another Christmas with you, and we look forward to spending 2010 with you!

Read the full article.
Tags: asbestos, chemoembolization, Debbie Brewer, Germany, mesothelioma, Prof. Thomas Vogl, UK, University Clinic, Vogl
This entry was posted on Thursday, December 31st, 2009 at 7:00 am and is filed under News, People. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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Send a vote for healthy jobs to the United Nations

The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) is asking the public to help give a voice to efforts to ensure a safe and healthy workplace. Simply go online to vote that an article titled “Ensure all jobs are healthy jobs” by Michael Kalmus Eliasz should be presented to the upcoming United Nations Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development, scheduled to take place June 20-22 in Rio de Janeiro.

The healthy jobs initiative fits in with ADAO’s mission to ensure safe workplaces by calling for a complete ban on asbestos. Asbestos was used for decades in industry as a fireproofing material. Tiny asbestos fibers can be inhaled and ingested, resulting in the development of asbestos diseases including mesothelioma, which is a deadly cancer affecting the lining of the lungs, abdomen and, more rarely, the heart. There is no known cure for mesothelioma.

If the article about healthy jobs receives the most votes online, it will be presented to heads of state at the U.N. conference. The article, prepared by the International Association of Medical Students, quotes statistics from the International Labor Organization (ILO) that cite more than 2.34 million deaths from work-related diseases in 2008. It calls for the “integration of health assessments into strategies for job creation … in particular identifying health risks among both formal and informal workers across the supply chain and acting to mitigate these risks.”

You can read more of the paper, and find instructions to register and vote by visiting the ADAO online. The deadline for voting is JUNE 3, so please support this effort by voting today!
Tags: ADAO, asbestos, asbestos disease, Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, mesothelioma, United Nations, workplace safety
This entry was posted on Thursday, May 31st, 2012 at 10:05 am and is filed under Events, Organizations. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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Participants sought for mesothelioma genetic study

Among the many wonderful speakers at the 2009 International Symposium on Malignant Mesothelioma, presented by the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation in June, was Dr. Jill Ohar of Wake Forest University. She has been researching mesothelioma and other asbestos diseases for more than 20 years, and currently is heading a study to determine if there could be a genetic predisposition between asbestos exposure and the development of mesothelioma.

Dr. Ohar told conference attendees that her goal is to try to discover why some people may be exposed to asbestos and never develop any type of asbestos disease, while others may develop asbestosis, lung cancer or mesothelioma. She had already collected blood samples and DNA from 6,000 people exposed to asbestos for an epidemiologic study. Of that number, she said, 250 people developed mesothelioma.

“What is different in those people?” she wondered.

The next phase of the study is a genome study involving the 250 patients who did develop mesothelioma. In addition, Dr. Ohar is seeking additional participants.

A news release on Oct. 5 announced that FirstHealth of the Carolinas, a comprehensive health care network serving 15 counties in the mid-Carolinas, will partner with the Wake Forest School of Medicine to encourage participation in the study, which is investigating the development and progression of asbestos-related lung diseases and cancers. The FirstHealth Clinical Trials Department will work on this project.

Dr. Ohar is the study’s principal investigator. In the news release she says, “Families have been devastated by this disease, but what is surprising is that despite the strong association of asbestos exposure to mesothelioma, only a small number of people exposed to asbestos actually develop mesothelioma. Over years of research, we have determined that there is a strong tendency for mesothelioma to run in families and it tends to be associated with a family history of cancer, which suggests a genetic susceptibility.”

The mesothelioma study requires the collection of one ounce of blood from the participant and the completion of a tw0-page survey, both to be conducted at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital’s Chest Center of the Carolinas.

The study will examine associated environmental factors and genetic markers of people diagnosed with mesothelioma, basically identifying how frequently encountered environmental pollutants affect the body and determining the genetic factors that make some families more susceptible than others to mesothelioma and other forms of cancer.

If you or a a friend or family member has been diagnosed with mesothelioma and are interested in participating in this study or have questions, please call FirstHealth Clinical Trials at 910-715-2200 or Dr. Jill Ohar at 866-487-2344 or 336-716-8426.

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Variety columnist Archerd to be honored at ADAO conference

Variety magazine, famous for entertainment reporting, announced this week that famed columnist Army Archerd will be honored posthumously by the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADOA) at its Sixth Annual International Asbestos Conference on April 10 in Chicago. Archerd will receive the organization’s inaugural Warren Zevon Keep Me in Your Heart memorial tribute.
The award was established in memory of singer-songwriter Warren Zevon, author of such hits as “Werewolves of London,” who died of mesothelioma in 2003. Mesothelioma is a deadly form of cancer that is linked to asbestos exposure. It most often affects the lining of the chest and lungs, but may also affect the lining of the abdomen or, more rarely, the heart.

Warren Zevon’s son, Jordan Zevon, is involved with ADAO as its spokesman. Variety quotes him as saying, “My father would be enormously honored to have had the opportunity to pay tribute to Army Archerd.”

Archerd was a columnist for Variety
for more than 50 years, penning his “Just for Variety” column until September 2005. Even after he retired the famous column, Archerd worked as a blogger for Variety. He was one of the most popular and well-respected writers in the entertainment industry, and broke many exclusive stories. He died of mesothelioma on Sept. 8, 2009. It is believed he was exposed to asbestos during his service in the Navy during World War II.
Variety quotes his widow, Selma, as saying, “The tragedy of asbestos disease is a story that unfortunately continues to be written for many families. I hope that Army’s legend of making a difference through his work can help give an even louder voice to the efforts to write its end.”

ADAO was founded by asbestos victims and their families in 2004. It seeks to give asbestos victims and concerned citizens a united voice to raise public awareness about the dangers of asbestos exposure. ADAO’s mission includes supporting global advocacy and advancing asbestos awareness, prevention, early detection, treatment, and resources for asbestos-related disease.

For more information about ADAO or the annual Asbestos Conference, visit ADAO online at
Tags: Army Archerd, asbestos, Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, Chicago, International Asbestos Conference, Jordan Zevon, Keep Me in Your Heart, mesothelioma, Variety, Warren Zevon
This entry was posted on Friday, March 5th, 2010 at 10:56 am and is filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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7 Tips for Families Facing Cancer

 We spoke to clinical psychologist, Dr. Ramani Durvasula, about the ways a family can stay strong when a cancer diagnosis happens. Here is what she had to say:
1. Understanding Levels of Grief
There are multiple levels of grief and anger. These are going to vary developmentally and experientially across the family. The patient will be facing one set of issues, the spouse/partner one set, children are quite complicated as it depends on age - grown children who live outside the house are quite different than young children who will be dealing with very different issues. So a key is to work with the oncology team, which hopefully has a social worker to not just make this all about the person with cancer, but all members of the family and to ensure that you have access to referrals, support, and information that is appropriate at all levels of the family.

2. Be Organized
Medical appointments, records, insurance, medications require organization - and this may require assistance with housework, healthy members of the family ensuring that things are in their place and running smoothly.

3. Retain Some Normalcy
Don't turn the home into a satellite hospital -have dinner together, play board games, do the things you do together, and really bring some value to that time.

4. Turn to Spiritual Resources
Recognizing that every family relies on this differentially - some are nonbelievers, some will need their parish/temple/mosque community. If it feels ok - turn to leaders in your religious community as a family if that feels right.

5. Talk and Listen
Denial is a normal phase of mourning - but can be scary for those who do want to talk. It may feel hard, but give each other that time, and if needed bring in the professionals and turn to licensed mental health professionals who have expertise in working with patients with cancer and their families.

6. Keep Everyone In The Loop
This can be very important if a family is scattered across the country. Some families may do this via email, some families may do Skype calls together, some families may even have private websites to post test results to. Each family knows what is comfortable -but the less they have to hassle the patient but keep abreast, it may be helpful for all concerned, and address those feelings of helplessness that are all to common in family members of a person with cancer.

7. Choose a Family "Go-To"
Some families have that person who makes a good "spokesperson" and can stand the litany of questions, well wishes and insensitive comments. If outsiders know there is somewhere they can go to get information and offer their words, sometimes this can shield the family from lots of excess nonsense they don't want to deal with at that time.

Every family is different, and ultimately should be working with a social worker or other mental health worker that is typically part of a good oncology team to devise strategies that are best for them.

Dr. Ramani is a licensed clinical psychologist and Professor of Psychology. Drawing upon her years of clinical experience, graduate and undergraduate teaching, and published research - she is masterful at taking all things psychological and making them interesting and understandable for a wide variety of audiences. Her versatility makes her a useful presenter for audiences ranging from adolescents to professionals, laypeople to mental health professionals.

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The Daily Show shines a light on Canadian asbestos mining, exporting

An amazing original report by The Daily Show, the popular news commentary and comedy show hosted by Jon Stewart on Comedy Central, shines a spotlight on Canada’s continued mining and exporting of asbestos. Reporter Aasif Mandvi visited a small Quebec town called – believe it or not – Asbestos. There, he talked to town officials, asbestos industry leaders and a health expert about asbestos. A local business leader says when the mine is up to full production, they intend to produce 200,000 tons of chrysotile fibers per year. They export this asbestos to India, which does not have any laws against its use and does not monitor its use.
Asbestos, of course, has been shown to cause lung cancer, particularly deadly pleural mesothelioma, which affects the lining of the lungs. Asbestos also can affect the lining of the abdomen, causing peritoneal mesothelioma. Although some people diagnosed with mesothelioma are having success with radical or experimental treatments, there is as of yet no known cure for the disease.
Watch The Daily Show segment, titled “Ored to Death.”
Thank you to the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) for letting us know about this coverage!
More information:
Canadian Crossing
Tags: asbestos, mesotheliomaThis entry was posted on Friday, May 13th, 2011 at 12:27 pm and is filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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Victims of asbestos — Virgil and Cheryl’s story

It was Cheryl Cotton’s third time attending the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation’s annual International Symposium on Malignant Mesothelioma when I met her this past June. We were both seated in the hotel lobby, waiting for a bus to take us to Capitol Hill, where we would ask our legislators to support a complete ban of asbestos and for funding for mesothelioma research.

I think it was Cheryl who introduced herself first, and I was delighted to hear she was from my home state, Alabama, about two and a half hours north of Montgomery, in Anniston. When I told her I was from Montgomery, she was ecstatic to finally find someone with a meso connection in her home state.

Cheryl lost her husband, Virgil, to mesothelioma on May 31, 2005, just two days after their 40th wedding anniversary. She began attending the Meso Foundation conference almost immediately, urgently needing to connect with others who might understand what she was going through, and to make sense of a disease that took her best friend and love of her life before either of them fully realized what was happening.

Virgil first began to notice something was wrong in late March 2004, when he had a severe pain in his side. His hobby was restoring vintage automobiles, and he had been working on a friend’s car, so he thought he had possibly just bruised a muscle while working. But shortly after that he developed a terrible cough.

“It was a whole-body cough,” Cheryl recalls. “Like from head to toe.”

Virgil went to see his doctor, who thought the cough might be related to a drug he was taking following a heart catheterization, which he’d had earlier that year.

“The doctor said it would take 60 days or so to get the drug out of his system, so basically for two months we did nothing,” Cheryl says. “The pain in his side persisted, and the cough got worse. Right up until this time, after his heart problems, he had been dedicated to cardiovascular exercise and eating right. He was probably in the best shape he’d been in for years. He would actually get onto to me about exercising more and eating right,” she recalls with a laugh before turning sober again. “So this was just odd. He kept feeling sicker and sicker.”

He went back to the doctor, thinking maybe there was something wrong with his heart. Tests showed his heart was fine, and doctors sent him home and told him to just continue to exercise and eat right.

But Virgil began having trouble breathing. It was September by now. He visited the doctor again, and was referred to a pulmonary specialist for a thoracentesis. They found fluid in his lungs, but tests came back negative for cancer or any type of infection. But the fluid came back almost immediately.

Cheryl was getting really worried.

“He was used to being active, but now he could hardly get around. He had no energy,” she remembers. “We had requested referrals to see some doctors in Birmingham, because he was dying in front of me. I knew there was something more going on, and I couldn’t understand why nobody could tell us. We had two more thoracenteses and still no diagnosis. The local doctors said they didn’t know what was wrong with him.”

At this point, Cheryl decided to call Birmingham, and talked to a nurse at UAB Medical Center. She got a referral for a pulmonary specialist, and made an appointment for Virgil the following week. But when they got to see the doctor, he said Virgil actually should see a thoracic surgeon, and gave them another referral. They gathered all Virgil’s test results and visited the thoracic surgeon on December 14. An initial theory was that Virgil might have a collapsed lung and scar tissue.

“Virgil had really gone downhill,” Cheryl said. “He was aging. Things had fallen apart in nine months, since the first symptoms.”

Doctors decided to do a thoractomy, but because it was Christmastime, they decided to wait until January, telling Virgil and Cheryl to go home and enjoy the holidays with their family. He finally had the surgery Jan. 4, and they first heard the word mesothelioma. But the diagnosis still wasn’t definite until about 10 days later.

“At that point it was stage 2+ or 3-. It was already advanced. We were referred to a doctor for chemotherapy, but still nobody was really telling us much about what this diagnosis meant. We had no idea.”

Virgil underwent a series of chemotherapy treatments, and then on April 20 began receiving radiation at a cancer center in Birmingham.

“By then, his breathing had deteriorated and they’d put him on oxygen,” Cheryl said. “He’d really not been able to lie flat since September. He had to prop up in a recliner or on a pallet on the floor.”

On May 19, a Thursday morning, Virgil woke Cheryl and told her something was wrong and that he felt he needed to go to the hospital. They went to UAB. On May 21, the doctor came in and told them Virgil was not improving, and that he didn’t have long to live. She estimated two and half to three months, and advised them to get their affairs in order.

“This was the first time anyone really talked to us about dying. Everyone was telling us he had time, that there was all this time.”

They called in Hospice care, and their daughter, Pam, came to visit, bringing their grandson and making a video of Virgil and the boy. On May 30, Virgil began doing worse, and passed away the next day. This was just nine days after they’d first been told that Virgil’s condition was terminal, and about 15 months since his first symptoms.

Cheryl was in shock. “He was 60 years old and had been in prime health,” she says. “When he died, he looked like he was 90. I didn’t even realize how bad he looked because I guess I saw him every day. Months later, I watched the video Pam had made just before he died, and then I really saw it.”

Virgil’s illness had been such a whirlwind; Cheryl wasn’t quite sure what to do after his death. She still couldn’t quite believe it had even happened. She was angry, that Virgil went so long with no diagnosis and no treatment. She felt guilty, like she ought to have somehow known more, or done more. And she felt alone.

Some time after Virgil was diagnosed with mesothelioma, Cheryl found the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to the elimination of mesothelioma through outreach, education and funding research efforts to find a cure. She also connected with Sue Vento, the widow of Sen. Bruce Vento of Minnesota, after whom the pending “Bruce Vento Ban Asbestos and Prevent Mesothelioma” legislation before the U.S. Congress was named.

“She emailed me and I think called me, too,” Cheryl says. “She sent me a book on meso as well. She was the calm in the middle of my storm, and has kept in touch with me during this time via emails.”

Following Virgil’s death, Cheryl decided to attend the Meso Foundation’s annual International Symposium on Malignant Mesothelioma, and packed her bags for the trip to Washington, D.C. Many of her friends couldn’t understand it, but she says it was something she had to do.

“I somehow found MARF and the main reason I went to the conference that first year was to have someone to share this pain, and try to come to some conclusions,” she said. “You feel like you didn’t do something you should have. We had never heard of the word until they told us the diagnosis.

“I really felt like … when you lose your husband, who had been my friend, before he was my sweetheart – we’d known each other since we were 12. I felt if there was some way I could reach out to someone else it would help me as much as maybe I could help them. I felt there was that need in my heart, to find out as much as I could about the disease,” Cheryl says. “It was wonderful to know that people were surviving. But it makes me angry that Virgil didn’t have a chance.”

She had a chance to meet her “rock,” Sue Vento, at that first conference as well. Since that time, Cheryl has attended the Symposium for three years in a row, where she is active, joining others in visiting Capitol Hill to ask Congress to ban asbestos, and to fund mesothelioma research. She is also active in her community, talking to people about the dangers of asbestos exposure and about mesothelioma. She takes brochures about mesothelioma to doctors’ offices, hoping to increase knowledge among the medical community, hoping that someone else may be diagnosed early enough for treatment.

“Now I have contact with more people who are battling mesothelioma, and I learn that most people also have never heard of it. At the time, you just have to hang in there, and you can fall apart later. So I try to connect and just try to help someone, to let them know that someone is there who understands what they are going through. And it helps me too,” she says.

“I share my story every chance I get. I wear an awareness pin. People need to know asbestos is out there and it’s killing people.”

Outreach is hard. Every time she shares Virgil’s story, the pain is fresh again. But Cheryl is determined, and she’s willing.

“Mesothelioma patients and their families are victims,” Cheryl says. “They are victims of asbestos. And all of this COULD and SHOULD have been avoided!”
Tags: Alabama, asbestos, Birmingham, Bruce Vento, Bruce Vento Ban Asbestos and Prevent Mesothelioma Act o, Cheryl Cotton, International Symposium on Malignant Mesothelioma, mesothelioma, Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, Mesothelioma Awareness Day, Minnesota, Montgomery, Sue Vento, Virgil Cotton, Washington
This entry was posted on Thursday, September 24th, 2009 at 9:10 am and is filed under Events, News, People. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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Theo loves Germany – Debbie’s tumor continues to shrink!

Today I heard from Debbie Brewer, our friend in the UK. She is just returned from another visit to Dr. Thomas Vogl in Germany, where she had wonderful success with the clinical trial for chemoembolization. She first visited Vogl for the treatment in May 2008. In March 2009, she found that her tumor had shrunk an amazing 73 percent since her first treatment. This week, she reports that even Dr. Vogl was surprised to see that Theo – as she nicknamed the tumor – had shrunk an additional 10 percent! That’s a total reduction of 83 PERCENT for those of you keeping score!

This is truly wonderful and amazing news, particularly for a cancer like mesothelioma, which has no known cure. This sounds pretty darn close for Debbie, who is considered in remission with this amount of tumor gone.

Those who have been following Debbie’s story and have read the Q&A with Dr. Vogl we posted on this site know that chemoembolization is a procedure currently in clinical trials. The process involves introducing chemotherapy directly to the tumor, and basically trapping it there, concentrating it where it is most needed. Dr. Vogl is head of the Department of Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology at J.W. Goethe University Hospital at Frankfurt University.

The clinical trial is currently treating between 300 and 400 patients with primary and secondary lung cancer annually, and about 20 mesothelioma patients.

For more information, see the Q&A with Dr. Vogl.

Read more of Debbie’s story at her blog, Mesothelioma & Me.
Tags: chemoembolization, clinical trials, Debbie Brewer, Dr. Thomas Vogl, mesothelioma, UK
This entry was posted on Tuesday, June 9th, 2009 at 3:31 pm and is filed under News, People, Research/Treatment. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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Advocate of the Month - October 2012: Susan's Story

 The Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance would like to introduce you to a wonderful woman and our advocate of the month for October – Susan Ralston. Susan kindly shared with us the story of how her life has been affected by mesothelioma. Read more about her family and inspirational stepfather, and watch for her throughout the month as she plans to be a big contributor to our social community!
Cancer. My memories of cancer. I had a lovely stepsister named Lyndsay, who was the same age as me. She was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer in her late teens - Cushing's syndrome. I did not know anything about this disease, and was probably a bit naive about it all. All I could see was my stepsister gaining weight without an explanation and after several misdiagnoses, finally a right one. I have never known such a young person to show so much determination and fight in her. You could see the fear in my stepdad Ronnie's eyes, but she battled. Unfortunately, 10 days after her 19th birthday we got the dreaded call. Lyndsay had passed away. That was the day part of Ronnie died too. But you know, I think that he has somehow found that part again and is using it to fight his mesothelioma.

The worst and most painful memory of cancer has been my stepdad’s diagnosis with mesothelioma. In the summer of 2011 he developed a persistent cough that just wasn't getting any better. After a few visits to his doctor, he was sent for a scan. It showed fluid in the lung, so he was given medication. It didn't help. After several hospital appointments and a few admissions, he was told he had cancer the week before Christmas.

Everyone was a wreck. Ronnie was Ronnie-- calm and strong. All I've ever known him to be. Over the Christmas season, we tried so hard to put it at the back of our minds. With the focus on my two children, we managed a bit of normalcy, but it was always there. New Year's was specifically hard, trying to toast a new year of health and happiness when we had this going on. It was tough, especially for my mum, as she is fighting a battle of her own with a fatal kidney disease. She has been putting her own health on the back burner for a while throughout all this.

The biopsy was finally done in the New Year. We finally had a diagnosis. Sitting in the doctor's room; my mum, Ronnie and myself. We were shaking and trembling. Then the doctor said, "mesothelioma", "9 months from diagnosis", "very serious".

I couldn't believe this. It was February. The doctor had just given my stepdad 7 months to live, as he was technically diagnosed in December.

That day was awful with everything floating around in my head. Frantically, I started researching on the internet this "meso-whatever-thing" that I couldn't even pronounce. How on earth do I tell my kids that their papa is seriously ill? My 7-year-old son, Liam, and his papa are the best of friends. My 18-month-old daughter, Olivia, dotes on her papa. Ronnie worships his grandchildren. They are his strength in every way. They keep him going.

I was supposed to be getting married in April 2013. How on earth could I wait until next year? Ronnie might not be here. That's all I could see. He needs to be at my wedding. He was like a second dad to me. The only option was to bring the wedding forward. So it was decided, and the wedding was rearranged within 12 weeks, eleven months ahead of plan. A determined Ronnie kept wondering what all the fuss is about. "But I'll still be here next April" he reassured us, and we hope to God he is and we will have another party then to celebrate!

The wedding came and it was a great, but very emotional day. Our family had been through so much this year that we were ready for a party. And a party we had. My husband Scott has been my rock. Dealing with my moods, my bad tempers, and he has stood by my side throughout all of this.

Ronnie endured chemotherapy every few weeks and was wasting away in front of me. This once strong, sturdy man was becoming very weak and thin. It was all starting to get to him, and his emotions started to show. This was hard to see, especially for my mum. How on earth could she cope with this, I will never know. She has been a star for my kids, my step dad, and me.

The next consultant appointment came and extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) was thrown around the room. We were lucky enough to have the only doctor in Scotland that performs this procedure, as it is still only a trial here. "Lucky" is actually not a word I feel I would use in making the decision that could kill Ronnie on the table or make his remaining life a painful one. The doctor decided that Ronnie wouldn't be able to cope with the lifestyle that would follow an EPP and operation and was set for pleurectomy instead. They wanted to perform the operation a week before the wedding. Ronnie was adamant. "No operation at that time." So it was scheduled for the 27th of June.

The time for the operation came and Ronnie was a wreck, as were my mum and I. She was shaking; her nerves making her sick. Ronnie said goodbye to my kids. He did not take that too well. They give him strength and courage; a courage I have seen continuously grow in Ronnie. He has been determined from the very start of this journey to fight mesothelioma with every tooth and nail of his body. It is a courage and strength I admire with all my heart. After a long day of wondering what was happening and how the operation went, he finally came up to the intensive care unit. He looked awful, but he was doing ok.

After recovering in the hospital and eventually going home, he endured an awful lot of pain, but was on the mend. A scan was performed and the doctors were happy with the results. The scan looked good and the 7-month life expectancy was taken off the table. I could not believe it, such wonderful news! But there is mesothelioma still lingering in his chest and it's also surrounding his heart.

Ronnie has a rest from chemo for right now to help his body recover from the operation. He is due back in December to see what happens next, although that may be brought forward a bit as his symptoms and pain are returning. My main worry is how they will treat around the heart.

I have never seen such fighting spirit. Ronnie is determined to be here in this world for as long as he possibly can, and together we will make sure he is.

The fight continues.

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