Archive for November, 2010

Mesothelioma: Second-Hand Asbestos

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

Mesothelioma is an insidious, devastating disease.  Primary mesothelioma causes include asbestos exposure, which has raised the rate of occurrence of the disease in the United States from around one per one million citizens to somewhere between seven and 40 per million.

That’s a large spike, and it has its roots in historical asbestos use in a variety of commercial contexts.  Uses of asbestos include insulation on ships and in buildings, among other things.  Asbestos, in its commercially applicable form, is very lightweight and almost feathery.  When disturbed, it’s possible for miniscule asbestos fibers to be inhaled, where they become embedded in the delicate pleural lining of the lungs.  Once inhaled, there’s a latency period that can last anywhere from 10 to 50 years before mesothelioma’s symptoms manifest themselves.

Inhalation (or ingestion) is the most common way asbestos gets inside the body, and coming in contact with asbestos fibers at work is a very common way victims come into contact with asbestos.  However, it’s not the only way.  Another circumstance for contact with asbestos can be via contact with someone who works with asbestos.  Since asbestos fibers are so light, they can alight on a worker’s clothing, who can then unwittingly carry the killer home with him or her.  Once those clothes are moved—say, by handling the clothes when washing them—it’s possible for the fibers on them to become disturbed, airborne, and inhaled.

It’s in this way that Julie Gundlach, a 39-year-old woman and St. Louis resident, claims that she contacted asbestos and subsequently contracted mesothelioma.  According to a mesothelioma article found on, Gundlach claims that her father used to work with asbestos in his workplace, and that is how she came in contact with the fibers that gave her this deadly cancer.

Her story is another tragic chapter in the long and sad history of mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma Tumor Grade

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

Recent findings about the survival rate of victims suffering from mesothelioma have recently been published, according to a mesothelioma report found on  Though the news, unlike many studies and findings recounted in this space, doesn’t directly point toward a new treatment method or combination of approaches for mesothelioma treatment, it does represent an increased level of understanding of how the cancer responds to certain treatments.

The report suggests that victims of malignant pleural mesothelioma were more likely to survive after a diagnosis if they received cancer-directed surgery as part of mesothelioma treatment efforts.  Another important factor is the “grade” of the tumor cells.  The grade refers to its similarity to nearby cells.  According to the report, it appears that the more similar a cancer cell is to its surrounding cells, the higher the survival rate of those afflicted with the disease.

This is good news, and not just because the results of this study might show that patients receiving certain treatments may have higher rates of survival than others.  This is also good news because it means there are signs of progress of a sort within the field of mesothelioma treatment, an area of study that doesn’t quite attract the level of investment as other battles against more common forms of cancer.  Part of that research disparity might be due to the rarity of mesothelioma; after all, only somewhere between seven and 40 people per million in the United States contract the disease, compared to much higher rates for other, more common forms of cancer.

Just because it’s rare, however, doesn’t mean mesothelioma treatment shouldn’t be a concern.  After all, mesothelioma is an aggressive and lethal disease, and though there are treatments for it, there is, unfortunately, no cure.  The survival rate of patients suffering from mesothelioma is often measured in mere months.

Mesothelioma Awareness: Shine a Light Campaign

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

Mesothelioma, despite its reputation as a killer, doesn’t receive as much attention as other cancers.  A lot of that has to do with its comparative rarity: In the United States, for example, between seven and 40 people per 1,000,000 population contract the disease.  That’s a rate lower than many other more well-known cancers.  Unfortunately, mesothelioma also has a lower rate of survival than many of those aforementioned diseases.  Thus, it may warrant more attention than it currently gets, if only to raise awareness about how it’s contracted.

According to a recent blog post we came across on the Mesothelioma Resource Center, the Lung Cancer Alliance has put together an event designed to raise awareness about malignant mesothelioma.  The event, called Shine a Light, is an annual vigil conceived to highlight many of the dangers of lung cancer.  Malignant mesothelioma falls into the category of “dangerous lung cancer.”

Earlier, we mentioned raising awareness about how mesothelioma is contracted.  One answer to that is that mesothelioma is often the result of asbestos exposure.  The history of asbestos and its relationship with humans a long one.  Societies from the ancient Greeks all the way up to recent times employed asbestos in a variety of ways.

The uses of asbestos in this century was predominantly centered around the shipbuilding and construction industries.  That’s because asbestos, as a mineral, has excellent fire-retardant and insulation capabilities.  It could be mixed with concrete to increase the strength and lessen the density of the construction material, which lowered construction and transportation costs.  It could also be used as a lightweight insulation material on pipes and around boilers in ships, vessels where weight comes at a very high premium indeed.

Unfortunately, asbestos, when inhaled, can eventually lead to mesothelioma or asbestosis, both of which are devastating diseases.  In addition, mesothelioma has no known cure.

Asbestos in Madison Square Garden

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

We like to keep abreast of the latest news related to mesothelioma.  This means reporting on articles published elsewhere about advances in mesothelioma treatment, as well as posting about major mesothelioma settlements or general findings about asbestos and the terrible disease it is linked to.

This post would fall into the latter category.  According to an article found on Fanhouse, an online sports-related website, a basketball game between the New York Knicks and the Orlando Magic scheduled for Tuesday, November 2, 2010 will be postponed because of safety concerns about asbestos contamination in the building.  Asbestos-related materials, the report says, fell from the attic after Monday’s New York Rangers game.

This is certainly no laughing matter.  The fact that a building as popular and oft-frequented as Madison Square Garden is an asbestos exposure-related hazard in 2010 is a testament to how deeply ingrained the blight of asbestos is in our architectural landscape.

The reasons for this are well-documented and deeply unfortunate.  Asbestos was used prominently in the shipbuilding and construction industries because it had many properties that proved beneficial in these fields.  For example, asbestos is a very lightweight yet strong material.  That means that, when mixed with concrete, it made the resulting concrete simultaneously lighter and stronger than traditional concrete.  Thus, a lower weight of concrete could be used, and a lower volume as well.  This reduced transportation and construction costs.

Asbestsos is also very fire-resistant, which made it an excellent insulation material.  It was used between walls in buildings, and on pipes and around boilers in ships.  (Its aforementioned lightweight characteristics proved beneficial in the latter regard, as well).  In short, it was used frequently—and because of that, many people have suffered.

Today, asbestos is reviled for its links with mesothelioma.  It’s a testament to the deadliness of this unfortunate disease that cancellations such as the one above occur.