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Could the Future of Mesothelioma Research be in Jeopardy?

Scientists, doctors and researchers have made great strides in cancer treatments and therapies over the past few decades due to an infusion of public and private funding for cancer research. Although survival rates for some cancers are higher than ever, other types of cancer – such as mesothelioma – still require significant study and exploration before more effective and less toxic drugs and treatments become available.

Mesothelioma is a rare, but serious form of cancer that affects approximately 3,000 people in the the U.S. every year. The cancer is caused by prior exposure to asbestos – a substance that is now strictly regulated. Although not all individuals who were exposed to asbestos will develop mesothelioma, those who do may undergo months or years of surgeries, drug treatments and palliative therapies in an effort to prolong life expectancy and slow the progression of the cancer.

Because mesothelioma is such an aggressive disease, many mesothelioma patients and their families have placed their hopes in cancer research. But unfortunately, the progress that has been made in understanding and fighting mesothelioma may soon slow significantly if federal sequestration is carried out on March 1, 2013.

What is Sequestration and How Will it Affect Mesothelioma Research?

Sequestration is a series of automatic spending cuts scheduled to go into effect unless congress intervenes. The spending cuts have garnered much attention primarily because of their effect on national defense. However, other cuts are lurking in the shadows – including spending cutbacks for medical and scientific research programs. In the long term, this could mean fewer clinical trials and research programs available to mesothelioma patients. It is estimated that the National Institutes for Health will be among those government health programs most affected.

Some worry that promising drugs and therapies will fail to be tested in a timely way, potentially slowing mesothelioma cancer research by years. This is not good news for patients, who according to The American Cancer Society, have an average life expectancy of between 4 and 18 months following an initial diagnosis. Furthermore, raising private funding for mesothelioma research is especially difficult considering it is a disease that is very rare and affects only a few thousand people in the U.S. each year.

Patients and proponents of mesothelioma research are encouraged to contact their representatives and senators to encourage members of congress to reach a budget agreement that does not prevent the continuation of cancer research or hamper the momentum that has been established in developing promising new drugs and therapies. Mesothelioma lawyers will continue to fight for just compensation for their clients who have been affected by asbestos cancer and will be urging Congress to act responsibly in the face of this threat. The federal government has a responsibility to help protect the health of its citizens, including those who are suffering with or who will eventually be diagnosed with mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma: a growing concern for boating enthusiasts

Boating and sailing enthusiasts are growing in number throughout the US and around the world. Whether boats are providing a source of income, a leisurely way to spend retirement, or an occasional fishing weekend, time on the water continues to offer something for everyone.  Like many activities, however, boating necessitates safety and know-how. One issue of boating safety that often goes unknown is that of asbestos exposure, the cause of rare cancer mesothelioma.

Caused by exposure to toxic chemical asbestos, malignant mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer affecting an estimated twenty thousand people each year worldwide. Mesothelioma is characterized by a long latency period, often going unnoticed for twenty to fifty years. When symptoms do demonstrate, they mimic those of bronchitis or pneumonia, making diagnosis additionally difficult. Due to its long latency period, mesothelioma is often diagnosed around the age of retirement; most male mesothelioma patients are diagnosed between the ages of sixty and seventy. Mesothelioma life expectancy is short, averaging eighteen months.

Asbestos causes mesothelioma by being inhaled or ingested. Once inside the body, asbestos fibers can become caught in abdominal organ lining, instigating a mutative process of tumor development. Mesothelioma tumors spread irregularly through organ lining. Pleural mesothelioma is the most common type of this cancer, and is specific to lung lining. Peritoneal mesothelioma is the less common type and found in lining of other organs such as the heart or diaphragm.

Asbestos was heavily used in the US through most of the last century, and relied upon in the shipbuilding industry. Known for its fire resistant qualities and durability, asbestos become the staple for ship and boat construction. Asbestos was used throughout the body of boats and is still present in components such as engine insulation, plumbing works, valve packs and interior wallboards.  Relatively safe if left undamaged, over time asbestos fibers can escape from containing materials through normal wear and tear. However, asbestos fibers often become airborne faster and in greater quantities during repairs and routine maintenance. Without knowing what to look for, and being aware of the risks, boat owners and operators could cause asbestos exposure, putting themselves and others at risk.

The best way to ensure safety during boat repairs or maintenance is to seek professional help to distinguish asbestos fibers and safely remove them from the area. Professional asbestos abatement groups must go through specific testing and licensure to provide such services; boat owners are cautioned to check references and paperwork to ensure all legal requirements have been fulfilled.

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.