Malignant mesothelioma is a cruel disease. This asbestos-related form of cancer can affect different people in different ways: for some the illness lands in their chest cavity and for others in their abdomen; some succumb quickly, in a matter of months, while others find that treatment can prolong their lives for a period of years. One way or another, the illness is always considered terminal, and as a result there are numerous important conversations that need to take place. Some of these involve medical treatment, while others involve making decisions about legal action and making financial arrangements.
Current Mesothelioma News
We think of firefighters as being our first line of defense against many disasters, and now the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are viewing them as first responders against mesothelioma and other cancers too. The agency’s occupational branch, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, is asking the nation’s 1.1 million firefighters to sign up for a voluntary registry that is specifically meant to help track and understand how cancer impacts their population: the effort is being undertaken in an effort to better protect firefighters and others whose work puts them in direct contact with asbestos and other carcinogenic materials. read more
In light of news that settlements have been reached in three recent lawsuits filed by mesothelioma victims against Johnson & Johnson, many of those diagnosed with the rare and fatal asbestos-related disease have questions about what a settlement is, how it is reached, and whether it is something that makes sense for them. read more
When Obedia Walker, Jr. enlisted in the United States Navy, the electrician had no idea that the decision would put him at risk for mesothelioma and lung cancer, the disease that eventually claimed his life. But that is exactly what happened, and after his death in March of 2014, his family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the manufacturers responsible for placing extensive amounts of asbestos in the boiler room, distillation plant, and other areas on board the U.S. Plymouth Rock, where he was stationed. Though one of those manufacturers, Viad Corporation, attempted to escape responsibility by filing a motion for summary judgment, Judge Joel H. Slomsky of the United States District Court of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania ruled against them, allowing the case to proceed and Walker’s case to continue seeking compensation for the damages he suffered.
Mesothelioma has affected people from all types of backgrounds and occupations, but few have been as affected as those who have worked in the maritime industry. Because ships rely on equipment that uses asbestos components, which often send asbestos particles into the air, many men and women who have served in the Navy and other marine environments have ended up diagnosed with the rare and fatal form of cancer. Those victims have frequently been stymied in their quest for justice, as many equipment manufacturers have successfully used what is known as the “bare metal defense,” arguing against their responsibility because they only provided the equipment, and not the parts that included the carcinogenic material. This week, the Supreme Court heard a case filed by two Navy veterans arguing against the use of this defense, and the 6 of 9 justices agreed. They ruled that in maritime settings, the manufacturers must be held to a higher standard and are therefore legally responsible for the damages that the sailors suffered. read more
As more and more cases of malignant mesothelioma and ovarian cancer are being blamed on exposure to asbestos in household goods, members of the U.S. House of Representatives are moving forward with proposed legislation meant to force cosmetics companies to provide warning labels for products marketed to children. At the same time, Congress is considering providing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration with greater power to act against companies that have asbestos in products that consumers are exposed to, and are also revisiting passage of an anti-asbestos law that would ban the use of the material in the United States entirely.
When you use a trusted product like Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder or a popular brand of make-up, it likely never crosses your mind that doing so could put you at risk for malignant mesothelioma or any other asbestos-related disease That’s because as Americans, we believe that the government, in the form of the Food and Drug Administration, regulates the use of toxic chemicals and poisons and protects us from using products that could harm us. Though the FDA does provide a significant amount of oversight, you might be surprised to learn that it has almost no authority over the cosmetic industry. In the face of rising concerns about the presence of asbestos in products that we use every day, the outgoing head of the agency is calling for changes to be made to existing laws.
Most Americans assume that asbestos, the mineral that causes malignant mesothelioma, was banned in the U.S. years ago. Unfortunately, that is not the case. The United States lags behind dozens of developed countries that have completely banned the material’s use, including our neighbor to the north, Canada. The carcinogenic material is still in use, though in a much more limited way, in the chemical industry, in construction materials, and in other applications including brake pads. It is also still in place from when it was more widely used. What this means for Americans is that they are constantly at risk for exposure, whether they are mechanics responsible for grinding or replacing imported brake pads that are still being made using asbestos, teachers exposed to asbestos insulation in the school buildings in which they teach, or construction workers renovating homes built with asbestos-contaminated materials. read more
A jury in New Jersey has been tasked with deciding whether Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder is responsible for Ricardo Rimondi’s malignant mesothelioma, and this week they heard testimony from an expert witness who said that the company chose an insufficient method of testing whether their product was contaminated with asbestos. According to Dr. William Longo, the testing method that the company chose was akin to looking for a needle in a haystack, and there were far superior methods available to ensure consumer safety. read more
There are few things more frustrating for a person diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma than hearing that the treatment they’ve been put through has not worked. Whether it’s one of the FDA-approved chemotherapy drugs, a new immunotherapy drug, or some other form of treatment, when it is administered to a mesothelioma patient it takes a significant amount of time to determine whether it is going to work on the patient – and if it hasn’t then it is valuable time lost. Researchers from the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center have created an answer to this challenge in the form of a new technology that creates “organoids” — miniature tumors grown directly from cells surgically removed from the patient’s tumor, on which the various medications can be simultaneously tested to determine whether they will be effective or not.