Category Archives: News

Mesothelioma threat found in New Hampshire school

A recent Union Leader news story covers asbestos finds in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. Kingswood Regional school complex for both high and middle school grades, has been undergoing major renovations, remodels, additions and upgrades. Although original budget allowances provided for asbestos abatement, more asbestos materials than suspected were found in part of the older building. Asbestos containing ceiling material has been found and will need to be removed as well.

Asbestos, a naturally occurring substance, is known to cause severe respiratory illnesses including rare cancer mesothelioma. Heavily used through most of the last century in leading industrial countries including US, UK, Australia and Japan, health hazards associated with asbestos caused governments and health officials to put heavy restrictions and regulations on asbestos use. Today, much asbestos exposure in these countries is caused by unsafe or incomplete asbestos abatement or removal projects.

Malignant mesothelioma development begins once asbestos fibers are inhaled. These fibers can begin a mutative process in otherwise healthy tissues leading to malignant tumor development. Mesothelioma is characterized by a latency period ranging from twenty to fifty years during which no major external symptoms are recognized. When symptoms so demonstrate, decades after asbestos exposure, they mimic those of bronchitis or pneumonia, making mesothelioma difficult to diagnose properly.

Kingswood Regional School is scheduled to reopen September 19 for grades 7 to 12. This postpones the regular start date by two weeks. School administrators are planning to make up for lost days as the year progresses.

Above all, local leadership and the community are thankful the new and improved facility will be safe, sound and asbestos free.

Respected UK Mayor diagnosed with mesothelioma

Mayor Rex Barnett of Swindon, UK has been diagnosed with mesothelioma. According to the Swindon Advertiser, Mayor Barnett was just completing his term in office when doctors diagnosed him with the rare cancer. Caused by asbestos, Mayor Barnett most likely began developing the disease during his employment on the British Railway works, where he repaired machinery and equipment for a stint of eight years. Unfortunately, at the time of his railway employment, during the 1950s and 1960s, asbestos was used in the raw for these repairs and employees were allegedly not provided protective gear.

The area of Swindon has seen many cases of mesothelioma and other asbestos related diseases, all considered to have been caused by the heavy railway work in the area. Mesothelioma has been nicknamed ‘Swindon disease” because of it’s prevalence amongst past Swindon area workers.

Mayor Barnett is known for the large funds he raised for several charitable organizations during his time in office. Much sympathy and concern has been expressed by the public in response to his unfortunate news.

Although Mayor Barnett recognizes the fatal characteristics of mesothelioma, he has not lost hope. “It is incurable but we are going to try to slow it down,” he said. With chemotherapy suggested for his care, Mayor Barnett had decided to begin mesothelioma treatment sooner rather than later, even though he is in the very last weeks of his term. “I think every day I fight it, the better off I will be – if I said I will do my final bit as mayor and the handover properly, I’m wasting my chances.”

Mesothelioma cases have become one of UK’s leading work-related death causes. Caused by exposure to toxic asbestos fibers, mesothelioma begins developing in protective lining of internal organs, most often the lungs. Malignant tumors grow through the affected areas spreading in an irregular web like pattern without demonstrating external symptoms. Mesothelioma is characterized by latency periods often ranging from twenty to fifty years.

Asbestos was heavily used through the 1900s in the UK as well as US, Australia, Japan and other countries with leading industrial markets. Commonly used in insulation, shipbuilding, munitions manufacturing and military equipment, thousands of people worldwide were being exposed to toxic fibers before associated health threats were known. Once regulations began to take shape and be mandated in workplaces, thousands of mesothelioma cases were already silently developing.

Once symptoms do demonstrate in mesothelioma victims, they mimic those of bronchitis or pneumonia, making the disease difficult to diagnose. Following proper diagnosis, patient life expectancy ranges from just six months to two years. There is no known cure for mesothelioma.

Potential mesothelioma treatment undergoes trials for ovarian cancer

Bionomics, a biotechnology company, is planning clinical trials for its cancer treatment drug BNC105. Discussions with medical leaders in both Australia and the US have been undertaken by the company in an effort to prepare for upcoming trials. Currently undergoing testing for use on renal cancer and mesothelioma, Bionomics foresees use of BNC105 in treatment of ovarian cancer.

Ovarian cancer is considered the fifth leading cause of deaths amongst cancer cases in women. Although mesothelioma has historically affected more men than women, current mesothelioma patient demographics show that more women may now be at risk of mesothelioma.

Known for decades as an industrial disease, mesothelioma was associated with manufacturing labor, large refinery operations, shipbuilding and other such large-scale work arenas through much of the nineteen hundreds. These operations used asbestos either in process or as an additive for end products. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that can be mined from the earth. Although it has been used heavily in product development and construction, and continues to be used worldwide, it is known to cause rare cancer mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma affects an estimated twenty thousand people annually around the world. Characterized by a long latency period, mesothelioma patients do not usually know they are developing the disease for twenty to fifty years after original asbestos exposure. Once asbestos fibers are inhaled they can begin a mutation in otherwise healthy tissues. Most commonly occurring in protective lung lining, malignant mesothelioma tumors grow in irregular patterns without demonstrating external symptoms.

Proper diagnosis of mesothelioma typically follows display of bronchitis or pneumonia like symptoms. These symptoms do not show up until mesothelioma’s more aggressive stage, after the long latency period. Mesothelioma treatments include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy; these are considered palliative, as there is no cure for mesothelioma. Average life expectancy following diagnosis is eighteen months.

Deborah Rathjen, Chief Executive of Bionomics, said of the upcoming trials, “It has always been Bionomics’ intention to initiate further clinical trials of BNC105. The decision to undertake a clinical trial in women with ovarian cancer has followed extensive consultation with key opinion leaders in Australia and the US.”

Bionomics drug BNC105 would be a welcome addition to mesothelioma treatment options. Mesothelioma case numbers are on the rise worldwide, with as many as ninety thousand cased expected annually if asbestos use continues to go unchanged.

Unique painting method may have caused mesothelioma

Artist James Howie of Scotland has died recently from a pulmonary embolism and rare cancer mesothelioma. After years of using a unique method in his artwork, it has been suggested that Howie’s habit of sanding paint may have led to his development of mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma is caused by exposure to toxic chemical asbestos, which has been used in the past as a paint stabilizer. According to Scottish news source Daily Record, Howie’s widow, Joyce, said “He had mesothelioma, which he could have contracted at any time during his work. He used to do layer upon layer of paint, always scraping, sanding, cutting it back to paint over it again and again in order to create a certain effect. He would keep repeating this process until it resulted in the thing he was looking for. Although we have the death certificate, we’re still awaiting the results of a final autopsy.”

Known for it’s durability and fire resistance, asbestos was heavily mined, bought, sold and shipped around the world through the last century. Asbestos has been used in countless avenues of industry, manufacturing and construction. Everything from power plant insulation to underground water pipes were constructed with asbestos though the 1900s. Countless homes, municipal buildings and facilities around the world now hold asbestos containing materials. Once safe, these products will wear over time, creating opportunity for toxic fibers to be released into the air.

Several decades ago health and safety regulators in more than a few countries began monitoring the use of asbestos more strictly, aware that respiratory illness, such as malignant mesothelioma, could be caused by the material. Today asbestos is a controversial item; relatively safe when contained in an intact product, asbestos fibers, once releases and inhaled, can lead to fatal disease.

Malignant mesothelioma affects an estimated twenty thousand people worldwide each year. This number is considered to be lower than the actual, as cases in many developing countries often go unrecognized and unreported.

Mesothelioma is specifically a cancer of protective organ lining. Once tumor development begins, mesothelioma spreads through the surrounding tissues of lungs, diaphragm and other abdominal organs. Mesothelioma is characterized by a long latency period during which symptoms do not demonstrate. Only after twenty to fifty years do symptoms typically show up, mimicking those of bronchitis and pneumonia. Mesothelioma is difficult to diagnose and considered fatal. There are mesothelioma treatments available, but no known cure.

Mesothelioma caused by restaurant oven seals

Mesothelioma has long been considered an industrial disease; patients diagnosed with mesothelioma often have a background in mining, shipbuilding, fuel refineries and other large-scale works. This is due to the cancer’s cause, asbestos, being used in such industries for its fire resistance, durability and insulating qualities. Industrial employees were often in direct contact with raw asbestos, greatly heightening their chances of fiber inhalation that leads to mesothelioma.

However, the amount of mesothelioma cases that have come out of direct asbestos contact could be greatly surpassed by slower, subtler exposure.  Through the last century countless construction and consumer products were built and manufactured using asbestos as a stabilizer. Now, decades later those components are beginning to break down. Floor and ceiling tiles that were once intact have endured years of wear and tear. Older buildings are being torn down and replaced. Through slow damage and intentional demolition asbestos fibers are being released into the air causing a threat to public safety.

One man knows too well that you don’t have to work in a shipyard or oil refinery to develop fatal mesothelioma. Luigi Pes, an Italian chef in Salisbury England, was diagnosed early in 2008 with mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos during his employment at La Gondola restaurant in the 1980s. In addition to some asbestos-containing ceiling material present in the establishment, Pes believes asbestos in the oven seals of the restaurant’s kitchen caused his case of mesothelioma.

In the Salisbury Journal’s July 5th article on the topic, Pes says, “For many years I worked there with no idea about the damage asbestos could do to my health. In later years when I became aware about the dangers of asbestos, I had an idea that I had been exposed but I never expected that I would end up with this disease.

“Despite my progressive illness and the restrictions it brings, I’m doing my best to enjoy each day I have left. I’m not angry but I do feel strongly that more should have been done to protect me from getting this disease.”

Pes sought legal action and was able to settle out of court for a six-figure compensation amount. Pes is married and has two grown children. His attorney, Stephen Loach, from legal firm, Thompsons Solicitors, says in the same Salisbury Journal article: “I investigated the case for Mr. Pes urgently and pursued it vigorously so that he could benefit from the compensation during his lifetime. While this will never make up for Mr Pes’ poor health it will at least afford him some financial relief and the knowledge that the employers who caused his suffering have been held to account.”


Mesothelioma patient self-prescribes vitamins, exercise, and triathlon

Unlike many fathers who spent time with their families over special lunches or dinners this past Father’s Day, Larry Davis took part in a Father’s Day Weekend Triathlon. Even more unorthodox than the way he spent his Father’s Day, is his reasoning; Davis took his daughter’s advice and signed up for the triathlon as a “good distraction” from hid day in and day out battle against rare cancer mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma is a respiratory cancer caused by asbestos, most often affecting lung-lining tissue. Characterized by a long latency period—often twenty to fifty years—mesothelioma patients are typically diagnosed later in life, well past a time when standard mesothelioma treatments have any curative effects.  Much like his choices for Father’s Day celebrations, Davis’s mesothelioma treatments have veered from the well-beaten path.

Although Davis is scheduled for his fifth mesothelioma surgery later this month, he has chosen a non-traditional approach to fighting cancer. Rather than the standard chemotherapies and radiation treatments prescribed, Davis has combated mesothelioma with vitamins, supplements and exercise to boost his immune system.

Davis recognizes the rarity of his health choices. He says, “I’m an enigma in a lot of ways. This thing (mesothelioma) is like going to a casino. To win, you have to be very lucky. It’s designed for you to lose. All you’re trying to do in the fight is make the odds a little more in your favor.

“The health care side of this has been a nightmare. There are too many doctors out there — some so-called authorities — who don’t really know what they’re doing, using treatments from the ’70s that just don’t work, copying someone else’s failures. I would have been dead long ago, if I had listened to some of the medical professionals and the treatments they suggested. I’ve learned the hard way that there are some pain medications, even some anesthetics, that (do) more harm than good.”

In preparation for the Triathlon this past weekend Davis took swimming lessons. “I was a runner. I’ve always run,” he said. “Swimming just isn’t my thing. I might be the only one in the race this weekend wearing water wings. I’ve become proof that a rock can swim. The triathlon has taken my mind off the surgery, and it has forced me to become healthier and physically stronger for the surgery.”

Davis has committed much of his time to raising awareness and funds for mesothelioma research. In the upcoming International Symposium on Malignant Mesothelioma, in Washington, D.C., June 23-25, Davis—and Linda Reinstein, founder of Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization—will receive the Volunteer of the Year Award.

This past weekend however, Davis and his daughter Courtney were focused on their triathlon goals and time together. Courtney said, “There is nowhere else I’d rather be on Father’s Day than with him in a triathlon. With this next surgery, we don’t know what’s around the corner for him, but he’s always been a fighter. And he’s not about to give up this fight anytime soon.”