Millions of Americans across the U.S. have suffered exposure to the asbestos fibers that cause the fatal conditions mesothelioma, lung cancer, other cancers, and asbestosis. In addition, workers who came home from the shipyards, construction sites, and factories with the dust on their clothes, skin, and hair also exposed their spouses and children -- many who have now been diagnosed with asbestos-related disease, themselves.
For the first time, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) has published guidelines that address "all aspects of clinical management" related to malignant pleural mesothelioma (Oppenheimer, 2018). They have determined the main form of treatment should be chemotherapy since most patients diagnosed with the disease are beyond the point where the cancer can be fully removed surgically. For those with tumors that are able to be surgically removed, ASCO recommends the inclusion of chemotherapy to their treatment, with or without radiation.
Asbestos related diseases have an average latency period of 10 to 80 years with most victims diagnosed in their 60s and 70s, so it is rare to see young adults and children developing mesothelioma. Late last year, a 23-year-old female was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma (Tanner, 2018), a fatal cancer of the peritoneum that surrounds the organs in the abdominal region. Her doctors believe that asbestos entered her body through inhalation and ingestion around the age of three. After 10 hours of operation and chemotherapy treatment, her doctors are hopeful that her prognosis can be extended for several years.
Mesothelioma is a specific type of cancer overwhelmingly caused by exposure to asbestos. It involves mesothelial cells which form the very thin linings/membranes surrounding and encasing the lungs, heart, abdominal cavity, and gonads. These linings are called the serosal membranes or mesothelium. After a person inhales or ingests asbestos fibers, those fibers reach the mesothelium where they cause genetic errors of the mesothelial cells that comprise the membranes. This results in daughter cells without the ability to control cell growth. This loss of controlled cell growth can lead to cancer of the mesothelial cells, which is mesothelioma.
Asbestos is a naturally-occurring, fibrous mineral that has been used in various consumer products for decades. In fact, its use dates back more than 4,000 years ago. However, starting in the late 1800s, it became well understood in medicine, science, and industry that asbestos dust from any source was deadly. In addition, many asbestos manufacturers were aware of the serious health issues surrounding asbestos but kept the information secret.
August 30th of this year is National Grief Awareness Day. It is an opportunity and a reminder to raise awareness of the impact that death and loss can have on us. Millions of people across the nation have lost someone they love, and now is the time to support them. One of the goals of National Grief Awareness Day is to help remove the stigma surrounding grief and death. It is important for those grieving to feel that they are not alone, and they do not need to feel ashamed of the feelings they have surrounding the events of loss.
If you have been exposed to asbestos during your lifetime, you are at risk for developing a deadly, incurable cancer known as mesothelioma. Unfortunately, mesothelioma has a latency period, meaning it takes a long time to develop. Clinical mesothelioma symptoms usually do not begin to manifest until 15 to 70 years after asbestos exposure. For this reason, mesothelioma is exceptionally rare in individuals younger than the age of 45.
Mesothelioma is an aggressive, incurable form of cancer caused by ongoing exposure to asbestos. Although it can be decades before a patient exhibits any symptoms, once they surface, the average survival rate is 18 months following an initial diagnosis. The most common form is Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma (MPM), which occurs when a tumor develops in the pleura (a thin, translucent organ that surrounds and protects the lungs). The tumor destroys the pleura, crushing the lungs and causing fluid to build up. This process typically burdens the patient with great pain, shortness of breath, and a cough.
There are many clinical trials out there offering hope to asbestos victims. Clinical trials exist to study the safety and effectiveness of new drugs and procedures to treat the various asbestos-related diseases.