The idea that a noted researcher and professor could die from mesothelioma is shocking to the academic community, but that is exactly what happened to Oxford University’s “Keeper of the Books”, Professor Dennis Shaw. Shaw died last July at the age of 93 after having been diagnosed with the rare and deadly form of cancer that is caused by exposure to asbestos. After his diagnosis in December of 2016 and learning that his illness was caused by exposure to the deadly carcinogen, he meticulously began recording all of the various possible exposures that he had throughout his career, and documented them in a personal statement to his family which he penned immediately prior to his death.
Month: October 2017
In 2016, the United States Congress joined forced with President Barack Obama to take a step towards eradicated mesothelioma: they passed a law that allowed asbestos to be placed on a list of hazardous chemicals to be reviewed for safety, and potentially banned outright. But with the arrival of the Trump administration, many had feared that the law would be defanged, and yesterday those fears were realized as the Environmental Protection Agency announced that it would limit its review to products still being manufactured and entering the marketplace.
A new method of administering chemotherapy to patients diagnosed with mesothelioma and other cancers has been tested in France, with mixed results. The procedure’s intent is to avoid the damage to healthy cells that can occur when chemotherapy is dosed intravenously, and it appears to be successful in that goal, but there is also a downside: physicians are too inexperienced in the technique and unable to determine which patients will be able to withstand the rigors of the procedure. Several patients involved in the study died of complications shortly thereafter, and now researchers need to determine how best to select the right patients, as well as how to overcome a steep learning curve.
The New York City Asbestos Litigation (NYCAL) is a court that is highly regarded for its ability to process numerous mesothelioma and asbestos-related lawsuits. It is also known for overseeing some of the cases that distribute the highest dollar amount verdicts to victims of negligence on the part of asbestos companies. Now that court has issued a change in procedures that will allow even higher awards to be given to asbestos victims, and the asbestos company attorneys are up in arms and prepared to fight.
Surgery is a frightening proposition in the best of situations, but when you’ve been diagnosed with a deadly form of cancer like malignant pleural mesothelioma, the idea of having an aggressive operation is even more frightening. Yet according to a recent study conducted by Loyola University in partnership with the University of Chicago, an aggressive operation known as P/D, or pleurectomy decortication, provides the greatest benefit to those who are in the most vulnerable position – those whose tumors are the largest and most advanced.
There are many similarities and many differences between malignant pleural mesothelioma and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Malignant pleural mesothelioma is a form of cancer, where idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is not, but both are considered to be fatal, and both have a significant impact on the ability to breathe. Where pleural mesothelioma impacts the lining that surrounds the pleural cavity and then spreads into the lungs, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is a scarring of the lung tissue itself. One of the biggest differences between the two illnesses is that mesothelioma has a known origin: it is caused by exposure to asbestos. Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is of unknown origin by its very definition: idiopathic means that its source is not yet known. But a group of researchers in the United Kingdom has just completed a study that suggests that the condition may in fact be another asbestos-related disease, and if that is the case then those who have suffered from the condition may eventually be able to hold the asbestos companies responsible in the same way that mesothelioma victims do.
Knowing what we know now about asbestos, it comes as no surprise that Walter Miller was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, the rare and fatal form of cancer. But back when Mr. Miller was an auto mechanic in the 1970s and before, the men and women who were working with the material had no idea that it was causing them irreparable damage. The manufacturers that were producing asbestos-contaminated parts knew, as well as others whose equipment helped to spread asbestos fiber around, but those companies did nothing to communicate the dangers of the material out of fear that it would cost them profits. Now those companies are being held responsible for their silence and inaction, as can be seen by the $9 million award that a brake-grinding machine manufacturer was ordered to pay him for his pain and suffering.
Libby, Montana is one of the most notorious sources of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases in the country, and possibly in the world. The western town was the home of the W.R. Grace & Co. vermiculite mine and processing mill, which operated up until 1990. It produced vermiculite, which was used in construction as well as in insulation. Unfortunately, the vermiculite that the company pulled out of the earth was heavily contaminated with asbestos, and as it was processed and transported throughout the town, the asbestos sickened thousands of people, and killed hundreds. W.R. Grace & Co. was held legally responsible for this tragedy, as it was later proven that company executives had been well aware of the dangers that their mine posed and had chosen to hide the information from the residents, as well as from their employees. The site is one of the largest Superfund locations in the country, with the Environmental Protection Agency spending $250 million to clean it up. Today, life in Libby is slowly returning to normal, but people continue to be diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases, and they continue to file lawsuits against those responsible.
If you have been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma as a result of having been exposed to asbestos, then nobody needs to tell you that the disease comes with more than its fair share of pain. All types of cancers are painful, but the tumors that come with this aggressive form of the disease put remarkable pressure on the internal organs, and the various therapies that are used to treat the disease bring their own discomfort. If you are struggling with pain, it is important for you to understand that there are numerous pain management protocols available for you, and you should take advantage of all of them. Though many patients feel that they need to suffer in silence, there is absolutely no reason for doing so – in fact, it may actually work against your healing and recovery.