When a person is diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, one of the first decisions that they need to make is whether or not to pursue a claim against those responsible for their exposure to asbestos. In the case of Merchant Marine veteran Mason South and his wife Anne, the question was an easy one – he and his survivors were entitled to file a claim against Texaco under the Jones Act based on his 37 years of exposure to their asbestos-contaminated products on the ships that he worked on. But when the couple filed the claim, they were surprised to find that the company filed a motion for summary judgment to have their lawsuit dismissed: Texaco pointed to a release that Mason had signed almost 20 years earlier, and for which they had paid him $1,750.00. Though they were facing a giant conglomerate with a full contingency of high-powered attorneys, the Souths stood up for their rights and fought back – and the courts agreed.
Month: August 2017
When you think of mesothelioma, you rightly think of asbestos, cancer, and cancer treatments. And when you think of measles you likely think of an old-world virus now halted through the miracle of vaccination. In both cases you would be correct. But if a group of researchers from the Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota are proven to be correct in their theory, you may soon be thinking of the two diseases in completely new terms: the scientists believe that they can use a weaponized version of measles as an effective treatment – and possible cure – for mesothelioma.
When it comes to treating malignant mesothelioma, chemotherapy is one of the most common forms of treatment that are used. Chemotherapy is a form of medication that kills cancer cells. Unfortunately, it also is extremely toxic to healthy cells, and for that reason its use is often limited, particularly when treating pleural mesothelioma: there is great risk in damaging healthy tissue located in the same area of the chest as the cancerous tumors. But a recent study conducted by German surgeons is offering a method of using chemotherapy in a highly targeted way that prevents the toxic drug from impacting vulnerable structures in the same body region. By blocking off pathways and limiting the time of exposure to the chemotherapy drugs, the doctors were able to provide pleural mesothelioma patients with much improved survival times and quality of life.
Many people assume that a diagnosis of malignant mesothelioma is met with immediate medical action – that a person diagnosed with this rare and fatal form of cancer would automatically begin seeking out the most innovative medical care available in order to prolong their life as much as possible. But a new study from the National Cancer Institute is calling that notion into question. According to a report published in the journal Lung Cancer, there is a large percentage of U.S. patients diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma who are choosing not to pursue any type of cancer treatment at all, and that is being reflected in the length of their survival from the time of their diagnosis. In exploring the patterns of care and survival among this patient population, the researchers were able to identify specific trends among those with different types of the disease, as well as in different age groups.
No matter what prognosis a patient with malignant mesothelioma is given when they are first diagnosed, they are likely to be offered a multi-modality treatment approach that includes surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. These three protocols are offered whether a patient and their physician decide on a curative approach to their disease or a palliative approach that is simply designed to offer pain relief and improved quality of life. Though this protocol has long been accepted as the best that medicine has to offer at this time, new research out of the University of Heidelberg in Germany suggests that the radiation therapy part of the combination may be allowing mesothelioma cancer cells to migrate and spread.
It’s been over forty years since the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency revealed that exposure to asbestos is dangerous for humans, and can lead to a diagnosis of malignant mesothelioma, asbestos, asbestos-related cancers, and other dread illnesses. In that amount of time, the use of asbestos has been cut back in the United States and completely banned in other developed countries. Tens of thousands of people have died, and scientists have spent countless hours trying to get a better understanding of how asbestos affects the body. Despite great strides in medical knowledge there is still an enormous amount that remains to be discovered, including whether – once exposed to asbestos – a person’s risk of mesothelioma ever diminishes. According to a recent Italian study, though some risks never go away, the risk of pleural mesothelioma stabilizes and may even diminish forty years after exposure to asbestos.
When a person is diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, they are immediately thrust into a whole new world: they must quickly learn about and submit to a variety of medical treatments designed to extend their lives; they must deal with the emotional burden of a terminal diagnosis; and they must consider their legal options against the companies that are responsible for having exposed them to the asbestos that caused their illness. The last of these may initially sound like the easiest of the three, but asbestos companies fight long and hard to avoid paying for their negligence, and these cases can often drag on for years. An example of this can be seen in a case that was recently resolved in the state of Louisiana: the family of a woman who died of mesothelioma in 2003 was finally provided with the justice that they sought in her death. After years of fighting a $5.5 million verdict, compressor manufacturer Ingersoll Rand’s arguments were denied and the company was told to pay the initial verdict against them plus interest, bringing the family’s award to $9.2 million dollars.
A lawsuit that is about to be heard in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas may mark a real turning point in mesothelioma lawsuits and asbestos litigation. The case involves a woman who was exposed to asbestos through talcum powder that she and her family used in their home. If her lawsuit is successful in getting the compensation that she seeks, it is expected that there will be many more similar lawsuits filed against household product manufacturers in the future.
Mesothelioma is a notoriously difficult form of cancer to treat. The disease, which is caused by exposure to asbestos, does not respond well to chemotherapy treatment, and as a result the average survival rate from time of diagnosis tends to be less than two years. But a recent report issued by the National Institutes of Health suggests that if mesothelioma patients respond to social interaction in the same way that other cancers do, it may be beneficial for them to be in the company of those whose treatments have been relatively successful.
Asbestos is a mineral that was widely used in the United States until the mid-1970s, when it was determined that people who are exposed to it are at risk for mesothelioma, asbestos, and other serious and life-threatening illnesses. The material was largely used in construction, in industrial settings, and in environments including high heat and flame because of its characteristic strength and insulating ability. Though its use has been diminished since that time, it remains in place in many locations, and its removal requires highly specific techniques in order to protect those doing the removal as well as those who may be in the immediate vicinity. These techniques are mandated by law, and when they are not followed those responsible can be held legally and financially liable for the damages that they cause. Such was the case in Cleveland, when businessman Christopher Gattarello was fined $7.8 million for his failure to adhere to the law. He also faces five years in prison. read more