Surviving Mesothelioma

Three new published studies contain a mixed bag of findings on the effectiveness of chemotherapy for mesothelioma.

Read more HERE.

Some disappointing news for mesothelioma patients and doctors who had high hopes for the chemotherapy drug cediranib.  The oral cancer drug, made by Astra Zeneca, failed to produce the results researchers were looking for in a phase II trial. It also caused a host of serious side effects and was “poorly tolerated” at the only dose high enough to show any clinical improvement in mesothelioma.

Read more HERE.


Selecting Your Mesothelioma Doctor

Selecting the right mesothelioma doctor for cancer treatment is one of the most important decisions that mesothelioma patients will make. Mesothelioma patients should aim to receive treatment from a doctor that they can trust and who they are comfortable with. 

The expertise of the doctor you choose as well as your comfort level you have with them are both important in selecting a mesothelioma doctor. Here are some criteria used by some mesothelioma patients in gathering the information necessary to make that important decision. 

  • The number of mesothelioma patients the doctor has treated during his career. 
  • The results and outcomes of those cases.
  • The kinds of mesothelioma (pleural? peritoneal? localized? advanced?) the doctor has most experience with. 
  • The kinds of treatments used by the doctor to treat mesothelioma. 
  • If the doctor supports any integrative or complementary types of therapy.  
  • Whether the doctor is involved in any mesothelioma clinical trials.
  • If the doctor has any financial connections with any pharmaceutical companies or mesothelioma lawyers.  

The above are just some broad considerations to discuss with a potential doctor in order to help you in your analysis. You should also look at the doctor’s bedside manner and whether they are willing to take the time to make sure you understand all your options.  The ideal doctor should respect your feelings and concerns, facilitate open communications and give you the time (within reason) to make your own decisions.  In addition, you should be comfortable with other members of the doctor’s team – the nurses, office workers and others that you will be working with.

These considerations may help you in making this important decision.  If the doctor doesn’t meet your expectations find out if you have time to get a second or third opinion.  If you do, this may be the opportunity you need to find a doctor that is a better fit for you and your expectations.

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[photo via]

Disclaimer: The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this article.

What is Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a rare kind of cancer that involves the mesothelium, which is the thin protective covering that surrounds the vital organs within our body.  The mesothelium is comprised of layers of cells that form a protective covering around these organs. The function of the mesothelium is to help in the gliding movement of each organ against the other by producing a lubricating fluid. The movement of internal organs may be seen in such examples as the beating heart and expanding and contracting lungs.  

 

Mesothelioma, or cancer of the mesothelium, is a rare disease where mesothelium cells start behaving abnormally and divide without any control or order. They can cause pressure on organs and injure the nearby tissues. Sometimes these cancerous cells can even spread to other parts of the body through metastasis. 

 

2 Common Types of Mesothelioma

The two most common types of malignant mesothelioma are pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma.  Pleural mesothelioma affects the pleural lining around the lungs.  Peritoneal mesothelioma affects the peritoneal cavity around the abdomen.  Peritoneal is the rarer form of the two subtypes.

 

All types of mesothelioma are caused by asbestos.  Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was mined and put into thousands of products even after industry knew it was dangerous.  In fact, documents produced during litigation have revealed that some companies knew asbestos could cause lung disease as early as the 1930’s.  Instead of warning consumers, protecting workers, and notifying health authorities, these companies hid this information for decades.  As a result of these acts, many people have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and other asbestos related diseases.  Sadly, if the companies and behaved legally and ethically many of these cancers and other illnesses could have been avoided.

 

Today, there are promising treatments for mesothelioma but no one cure.  According to the medical literature, treatments include chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery.  Sometimes these treatments are combined in multi-modality therapies.  In addition, there are clinical trials available for mesothelioma and some patients use integrative and complementary approaches.

Asbestos

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Disclaimer: The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this article.

 

 

 

U.S. Military and Mesothelioma

There is a reason why 30 percent of all the mesothelioma patients are active military or veterans. Why is mesothelioma so prevalent in this group of people? The reason is that the cause of mesothelioma – asbestos- was used extensively in the armed forces.

 

Navy ships used a great deal of asbestos to avoid fires.  Many aircraft used asbestos for insulation.  And vehicles used asbestos in transmissions, clutches and brakes.

 

From the boiler rooms, engine and mess halls to the sleeping quarters, asbestos was used throughout Navy ships.  This made it very difficult to avoid exposure to the material.  There are even stories of sailors waking up and being covered in asbestos dust from the insulated pipes just above their bunks. Aircraft engines and cabins used asbestos to protect pilots and other occupants from the heat generated by the motors.  Most jeeps, tanks, and regular passenger vehicles all used asbestos at one time.  Mechanics were often exposed to flying asbestos fibers when they did repairs and replacements.  Even military housing was known to use asbestos in flooring, siding and paneling.

 

The sad irony is that asbestos is now responsible for many more deaths than most wars.  Many veterans who gave their service to this country are now being awarded with deadly and debilitating asbestos related diseases like mesothelioma that could have been avoided.  

 

Evidence suggest that those in the military or at least some military contractors were aware of the dangers of asbestos 50 years ago or more but continued to use the material throughout WWII, Korea and the Vietnam eras.

 

Today, there is compensation available for these veterans but, unfortunately, many companies that manufactured asbestos containing products for the military have declared bankruptcy.  It is hoped that the military learns a lesson from asbestos and does not needlessly sacrifice its service men and women of the future.

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[image by expertinfantry on flickr]

How widespread is mesothelioma?

According to statistics, there are approximately 2,500 cases of mesothelioma diagnosed in the U.S. every year.  More men are diagnosed with mesothelioma than women.  And although mesothelioma can be diagnosed in anyone of any age it tends to affect more people over the age of 65.  

 

On the four subtypes of malignant mesothelioma, pleural with affects the lungs, peritoneal which affects the abdominal cavity, pericardial which affects the layer of tissue above the heart, and testicular, the most frequent is pleural followed by peritoneal.

 

Statistics also demonstrate that in the U.S., mesothelioma increased during the 1970s to the 1990’s; but since then, the incidence has leveled out. These changes are thought to relate to the fact that asbestos, the cause of mesothelioma, has been removed from most products over the last 30 years.

 

Most industrialized countries have an asbestos ban in place.  There is no comprehensive asbestos ban in the U.S., however there are some regulations that control the permissible amounts of asbestos in some products and many companies have voluntarily removed asbestos from their products to avoid litigation.  Unfortunately, there are still many countries that continue to mine or use asbestos without hesitation or comprehensive regulation.  Many of these countries exist in the so-called “Third World” and detailed statistics on their incidence of mesothelioma is unavailable.

 

Some countries, such as Vietnam and India, maintain that while some forms of asbestos are harmful, careful and safe handling of the material can prevent any exposure. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) is against this position and argues that the best way to eliminate asbestos-related diseases is to stop the use of asbestos altogether. According to a recent survey, about 125 million people still get exposed to asbestos and about 100,000 workers die from asbestos-related disease each year world-wide.

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Diagnosing Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is an insidious disease.  The majority of mesothelioma patients may not know that they have cancer until the symptoms start interfering with their daily lives. These symptoms typically do not appear for at least twenty years after exposure to asbestos and in some cases may not surface for as long as 50 years.  You should go to a qualified medical professional if you suspect you may have mesothelioma. A variety of diagnostic tests and methods are used to confirm the presence of the disease.

 

It is often difficult for the doctors to diagnose mesothelioma as the symptoms can be quite similar to other conditions.  Below are some of the general procedures followed by the physicians for an accurate diagnosis.

 

Interview – History & Physical

Your doctor will first do a physical examination and take a complete medical history.  The doctor will consider if you have any history that puts you at heightened risk for mesothelioma.  You will be asked whether you have any exposure to asbestos and the type of work that you did.  Asbestos is the only cause of mesothelioma.

 

Diagnostic Tests

Diagnostic imaging scans such as CT scans, x-rays and MRI’s help to understand if there is suspected cancer and how far it may have spread. Chest x-rays help to detect any abnormalities in the lungs while CT can offer images of the same location from different angles. MRI technology makes use of magnetic fields to provide more views for a more accurate diagnosis.

 

Biopsies

The gold standard in a mesothelioma diagnosis is a biopsy.  Biopsy methods include fine needle aspirations or more invasive surgical biopsies.  The biopsy material will be examined by a pathologist under the microscope.  In addition, special protein stains called immunohistochemistry will be performed on the cancer cells.  These assays can help differentiate between one type of cancer versus another.

 

Using methods like these, professional clinicians can accurately diagnose mesothelioma.  But even these tools are not full-proof because mesothelioma is a challenging cancer to diagnose correctly especially if it seen only rarely.  If you are diagnosed with mesothelioma you may want to discuss with your doctor getting a second opinion from a prominent mesothelioma center to verify the original diagnosis.

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[photo by windy_ on flickr]

Alaska lawmakers have decided not to let the threat of mesothelioma stand in the way of progress. 

Read more HERE.

Two new studies suggest that a popular mesothelioma drug becomes more effective when combined with other compounds. 

READ MORE HERE.

After a legal battle that lasted more than ten years and prompted a made-for-TV movie in Australia, seven former corporate directors were recently found guilty of lying to employees and the public about mesothelioma compensation.

READ MORE HERE.

Quick tips to protect yourself from asbestos exposure

Often linked with cuasing mesothelioma, an extremely rare (and often fatal) form of cancer, asbestos is classified as a known human carcinogen. And though its use has been banned  in the production of many products, its removal has not, making regular people prone to exposure.

On average, there are almost 2,000 new diagnoses of mesothelioma within the United States each year. What’s worse is that mesothelioma may be prevented (to a large degree) by simply knowing the risks involved with asbestos as well as being able to safely remove it from the area in which you work, play etc.

What sorts of products contain asbestos?

The following are a list of various items and places where you may find asbestos:

  • Fireproofing
  • car partsceiling tiles
  • floor tiles
  • popcorn ceilings
  • building materials used to make houses prior to the 1970s

You can also discover other causes of mesothelioma by clicking here.

Asbestos exposure at work

Those who work in construction, in shipyards or in the automotive industry are at a higher risk for asbestos exposure given the nature of the materials that they work with. However, there are standards that have been put in place in order to protect workers.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), there are 4 different classifications that are used to determine levels of asbestos exposure in the workplace, and for each different classification, there is certain protocol that must be followed in order to ensure the safety and health of employees who are working directly with asbestos. 

One example has to do with an employee’s exposure time to asbestos, which OSHA states as the following:

Employee exposure to asbestos must not exceed 0.1 fiber per cubic centimeter (f/cc) of air, averaged over an 8-hour work shift. Short-term exposure must also be limited to not more than 1 f/cc, averaged over 30 minutes. Rotation of employees to achieve compliance with either permissible exposure limit (PEL) is prohibited [source].

If you do work in an environment where you are exposed to asbestos or think that you may be exposed to asbestos, double check with your employer. Similarly, if you are house hunting or planning a demo project in an older home, take necessary precautions, and hire a certified asbestos specialist to inspect the area. It could end up saving your life as well as the lives of your family one day.

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[image by Qole Pejorian on flickr]

Preventing new cases of mesothelioma

Each year, more than 2,000 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed in the United States alone. This information may come as a shock to many as news of the dangers surrounding asbestosexposure have been around for decades, dating back to the 1980s when mesothelioma was first brought into the spotlight. 

So, why is it then that there are still so many people who are being diagnosed as new patients of this rare form of cancer- especially when this is a form of cancer that (in most cases) can be prevented?

Factors Contributing to Mesothelioma

There is a direct correlation between a mesothelioma diagnosis and asbestos exposure. While there are varying forms of asbestos in the world, the three most common are: white (chrysotile), brown (armosite) and blue (riebeckite).

Despite the inherent dangers that go along with inhaling the fibers from asbestos, it is STILL produced in various parts of the world and is used in common products that you and I may come across in our daily lives. Some of these include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • sheetrock
  • vinyl floor tiles
  • plasters and stuccos
  • fireproofing
  • caulk
  • brake pads
  • and more!

Sure, many people may know about the risks associated with asbestos exposure, but how many of them actually take it seriously? For example, if you own an older home and decide that you want to save some money by doing home renovations yourself, are you going to think twice about what sorts of potentially dangerous asbestos fibers may be hidden inside your walls?

Preventing Mesothelioma Starts With You

Preventing mesothelioma begins by staying informed about the causes as well as the products that commonly contain asbestos. If you think that you may be at risk for asbestos exposure at your job or at home, you may want to speak to your supervisor and contact someone who is an expert at handling hazard materials. In some cases, it may not be a bad idea to speak with a mesothelioma lawyer. Whatever the case may be, knowing the causes of mesothelioma can help you and your family take the necessary steps towards leading more responsible, healthy lives. 


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[image via Surviving Mesothelioma]

The Importance of Your Mesothelium

Each year, more than 2,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with mesothelioma, a rare cancer that affects the mesothelium. But what is the mesothelium anyway, and why is it important?

WHAT IS THE MESOTHELIUM?

In the human body, the mesothelium is a thin layer of tissue (or membrane) that surrounds and protects the vital organs in your body. It can sometimes go by different names, depending on the area of your body that is being discussed. For instance, the following are several different names for mesothelium in your body, based on location:

  • Peritoneum | …is the mesothelium that protects your abdominal cavity
  • Pleura | …is the mesothelium that surrounds and protects your lungs within your chest cavity
  • Pericardium | …is the mesothelium that envelops your heart

RISK FACTORS FOR MESOTHELIOMA

Researchers and scientists have found a direct link between asbestos exposure and mesothelioma. Those who work in or around asbestos are at a significantly higher rate of risk for developing mesothelioma. Additionally (and perhaps more distrubingly), this risk also carries over to family members and others who live with those who work around asbestos as the fibers can be carried into homes on clothing as well as hair. Therefore, proper precautions should always be taken if you know that you have to be exposed to asbestos. At the workplace, proper protective attire should be provided, and clothing should be changed and washed prior to leaving an asbestos-filled environment.

DETECTING MESOTHELIOMA

Detecting mesothelioma is often dificult initially for a number of reasons. For starters, the latency period or period of time it takes to become symptomatic is fairly lengthy with most people taking anywhere between 30 and 50 years to develop symptoms. By this time, the disease may have had a chance to metastasize, making it even more deadly. Additionally, at first glance, the symptoms of mesothelioma resemble those of several other possible ailments/diseases. It isn’t until a biopsy is performed that a definite diagnosis can be made.

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[image by euthman on flickr]

‘Body Clock’ Chemical Could Help Fight Mesothelioma

One of the chemicals responsible for helping establish the body’s circadian rhythms may also help doctors fight mesothelioma.

READ MORE HERE.

Spice May Trigger Mesothelioma Cell Breakdown

There’s more evidence that cancer researchers might do well to spice up their mesothelioma clinical trials.

A team of researchers at Keio University in Tokyo report that curcumin, the primary component in the spice turmeric, can effectively reduce the viability of human mesothelioma cells in the laboratory.  This, despite the fact that mesothelioma is notoriously resistant to many types of conventional cancer therapies.

READ MORE…