Archive for the ‘mesothelioma’ Category

Resources for Mesothelioma

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

When facing a diagnosis of mesothelioma, knowing where to turn for information and support can make an enormous difference. While there may be local agencies in your area that provide support related to asbestos exposure or mesothelioma, it is important to understand the role and resources provided by the following agencies.

The EPA

Founded in 1970, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) exists to safeguard our nation’s water, air and land. The EPA website contains a wealth of information about the uses of asbestos, laws and regulations regarding asbestos, and guidelines for asbestos disposal.

OSHA

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the government agency responsible for promoting workplace safety in order to prevent work-related illness and injury. This branch of the Department of Labor creates regulations and standards for workplace safety. On the OSHA website, you will find information about the industries affected by mesothelioma, the safe handling of asbestos and other useful information and resources.

The NCI

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) is the national agency responsible for promoting cancer research, development and training through funding and awareness. The NCI website has information about how asbestos is linked to mesothelioma and the available treatments and therapeutic approaches to mesothelioma (both traditional and cutting edge). The site also has a comprehensive list of resources.

The NIOSH

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) operates to promote research, education and training related to workplace health and safety. On the NIOSH website, you can find numerous articles on the risks and prevention of mesothelioma.

The ATSDR

The purpose of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) is to protect the public from environmental hazard. The ATSDR website approaches asbestos and mesothelioma from a public health perspective, with a great overview of asbestos exposure and it’s risks.

Making effective choices begins with being fully informed. For more information about mesothelioma victims rights, click the previous link or fill out our online form.

Caring for Someone With Mesothelioma

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

When a loved one chooses to be a caregiver for another member of the family who is ill, it is often with great love and commitment that they make that choice. But providing care for someone who has mesothelioma can be a very challenging role to play. In addition to taking on activities such as scheduling mesothelioma treatment appointments, managing medications, and assisting with daily routines, you may also be needed as a source of comfort and listening, even when the victim is experiencing grief and anger. Many caregivers report experiencing overwhelm and even burnout. If you are planning to be a primary caregiver for someone who has mesothelioma, here are a few suggestions that may make your experience more manageable.

First, keep in mind that maintaining your own health is critical to providing consistent and thoughtful care to someone who has mesothelioma. Setting up your schedule to include regular meals, quality sleep, and sufficient breaks can help alleviate stress. Stress-reducing activities such as exercise, reading or prayer and meditation may also prove to be very helpful. Planning for these activities may involve hiring outside help, but the benefits of renewed energy and a refreshed outlook will make the expense well worth it.

On the subject of getting help, you may want to consider lining up one or more backup caregiver. It’s very helpful to have someone who can step in the case that you are sick or have an urgent personal matter to attend to. It also makes a difference to have someone else take over for extended periods of time so that you can have time to restore and to handle personal matters that can fall to the wayside when caring for another.

While caring for your loved one, you may have questions about mesothelioma or mesothelioma victims rights. With the combined effects of lost income, the cost of treatment, and other expenses, caring for someone with mesothelioma can become a financial burden for many families. You may want to find out whether you qualify for certain programs. For example, some insurance companies reimburse caregivers and even such things as housecleaning or other assistance. Joining a support group may also be very helpful. Taking the time to explore these resources can save time and money, as well as help maintain your health and well-being.

Asbestos: More Prevalent Than You Think

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

Given the overwhelming evidence of asbestos’ harmfulness to human health and its connection to the deadly disease mesothelioma, many United States citizens are under the impression that by now, asbestos has been phased out of most domestically-produced materials. However, many people are not aware that the 1989 EPA ban on many asbestos products was successful appealed and radically altered in 1991 by the U.S. Fifth Court of Appeals.

According to the EPA on this webpage, “Newspaper and magazine articles, Internet information, and currently available (but outdated) documents from the EPA and other federal agencies may contain incorrect statements about an EPA asbestos ban.” As a result, many products produced or imported for use in the U.S. construction industry may still contain asbestos.

So what materials are banned in the U.S.? The Clean Air Act bans the use of most sprayed-on asbestos containing materials using more than 1% asbestos. It also bans preformed and wet-applied asbestos pipe insulation. The Toxic Substances Control Act also bans corrugated paper, commercial paper, rollboard, specialty paper, flooring felt, and any new uses of asbestos. There are many products, however, that were originally scheduled to be phased out by 2008, are no longer banned under TSCA. These include certain asbestos cement materials, asbestos clothing, asbestos transmission materials, roofing felt and roof coatings. The EPA throughly addresses these matters and more in the document entitled, “Asbestos Strategies: Lessons Learned About Managerment and Use of Asbestos,” published in 2003.

And how much asbestos is being used annually in the U.S.? Well, according to the EPA, in 2001, the U. S. imported roughly 13,100 metric tons of asbestos, mostly from Canada. According to one of the report’s graphs showing the uses of asbestos in 2001, the large majority (9,250 metric tons) of asbestos is used in roofing products. This is followed by 2300 tons used in gaskets. Friction products, coatings, compounds, and other products incorporate the remaining 1/20 of uses of asbestos in 2001.

When it comes to the EPA and mesothelioma, the EPA makes clear some troubling factors. First, they note that asbestos is perhaps the most well-researched toxic substance. Second, they admit that not only are the current restrictions likely not sufficient to adequately protect the health of workers and consumers exposed to asbestos, but also the current enforcement of the existing ban is also insufficient. In their clarification of the asbestos ban and phase-out, the EPA advises, “The EPA does NOT track the manufacture, processing, or distribution in commerce of asbestos-containing products. It would be prudent for a consumer or other buyer to inquire as to the presence of asbestos in particular products.” We will be looking further into this topic in future blogs.

Breakthrough Mesothelioma Case

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

On February 13, 2012, the Italian court announced a verdict that may have an impact on people and families around the world who are dealing with mesothelioma. Billionaires Stephan Schidheiny and Jean-Louis de Cartier, key shareholders in the company Eternit, a producer of fiber-reinforced cement, were each sentenced to sixteen years in prison for the failure to comply with safety regulations in their factories’ uses of asbestos. This class action law suit is being touted as the most significant suit yet, because criminal charges were actually placed on the owners who benefited from the profits of the negligent factories.

Invented in the late 19th century, fiber-reinforced cement products, generally containing a mixture of cement and asbestos, has been favored in construction for it’s relatively light weight along with its resistance to fire and water. Production of this material has reduced significantly since the public has been aware of the risks of exposure to friable asbestos.

Prosecutors in the Eternit case claimed that at least 1,800 people died as a result of asbestos-related diseases in the town of Casale Monferrato, where the largest of the company’s factories was located. According to some reports, the company conducted its asbestos disposal in the open, releasing clouds of friable asbestos into the air to settle and collect on the town’s streets. They also gave left-over asbestos to families to use at home. When evidence of the dangers of asbestos began to surface, the company apparently concealed it and continued harmful practices, intending to protect the company profits.

In addition to facing criminal charges, Schidheiny and de Cartier were ordered to pay €95 million (about $126 million US dollars) to families of the victims, as well as large sums to other entities and organizations, including trade unions and the town of Casale. This is a clear victory for asbestos awareness groups and advocates of mesothelioma victim’s rights.

One of the biggest challenges facing groups dedicated to raising awareness about the dangers of asbestos is the inconsistency among trading nations in their asbestos laws and regulations. Many workers rights groups, environmental advocates, and asbestos awareness groups are hoping this case will have positive global impact on this issue.

 

Diagnosed with Mesothelioma?

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Most people who are diagnosed with mesothelioma have gone to the doctor because of troubling or persistant symptoms. If the doctor suspects that a patient has mesothelioma, he or she will use certain tests to determine with certainty whether mesothelioma is actually present.

Symptoms of mesothelioma can easily be mistaken for symptoms of other illnesses, especially early on. As a result, many people are not diagnosed until symptoms have persisted for several months or have gotten noticeably worse. Symptoms of mesothelioma depend on the type of mesothelioma and vary from individual to individual. According to current medical knowledge, peritoneal mesothelioma, which takes place in the lining of the abdominal cavity, may include swelling and or pain in the abdomen, weight loss, vomiting and nausea. Pleural mesothelioma, which develops in the lining of the lungs, on the other hand, is more likely to cause symptoms such as shortness of breath, fever, sweating, isolated pain, muscle weakness, persistant cough, and fatigue. These symptoms may not all present at the same time, and are much more likely to the result of other problems. Only a series of exams can allow a doctor to determine the presence of mesothelioma.

In addition to a physical exam, your doctor may want to conduct one or more other tests. Imaging tests, such as tomography scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), make it possible to look inside the body and identify cancerous masses. Blood tests can identify if certain substances are at characteristically elevated levels. Buildup of fluid in certain areas of the body can also be an indicator of mesothlioma. Removing and testing the fluid can show the presence of cancer cells. Finally, biopsies can also reveal the presence of mesothelioma. After a diagnosis is made and the extent of the disease is established, a course of mesothelioma treatment and mesothelioma therapy will be recommended.

 

Seeking Legal Help, Part 2 of 2

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

On our blog last week, we looked at why mesothelioma victims sometimes turn to the legal system for help. But many mesothelioma victims are hesitant to take action, because they are unfamiliar with the legal process, and the prospect of dealing with a legal battle may seem insurmountable given their physical condition. In truth, the process is more simple than you may imagine.

First, it is critical to select a lawyer carefully. Be sure that you understand who will actually be handling your case. Sometimes people hire a lawyer, not realizing that their case will be handed off to someone else. Finding this out after the contract is signed can be an unwelcome surprise at a difficult time.

Be sure to inquire into the case history and success record in handling mesothelioma cases. While a great track record does not guarantee success in your case, it does speak to the lawyer’s level of expertise and point to how they have handled similar cases. To better understand the magnitude of some asbestos cases, visit the asbestos lawsuit article.

You’ll also want to consider where your case will be tried. The scope of victims rights to compensation vary from state to state. While some states significantly restrict an injured person’s rights to these claims, other states, such as Texas, are known for speedy and fair trials. Speedy trials are especially important to victims who may have only a few months to live.

Finally, arm yourself with knowledge and support. Provided your health allows, do all the research you can about the causes of mesothelioma, mesotheioma victim’s rights and industries affected by mesothelioma. Research other cases like yours and the results of those trials. Rally your family and friends around you for support. Ask for the help you need (both logistically and emotionally) to take the next step. With the support of family and friends and an excellent lawyer, the resolution of your case may well bring some relief in a very difficult and challenging time. If you want more information about a possible suit or settlement, please fill out our online form.

 

Mesothelioma Legal Help: Part 1

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

Mesothelioma can be a devastating disease. Typically linked to exposure during uses of asbestos, this rare type of cancer affects the pleural membrane surrounding the lungs or the lining of the abdomen. Asbestos, a naturally occurring fibrous mineral that has been used for thousands of years in a variety of materials, when disturbed, can become airborne and find its way into the mesothelium lining the lungs or stomach. Once there, asbestos can irritate this lining, resulting in the development of cancerous tissue. Because mesothelioma has an unusually long latency period of 10 to 50 years, many of the people who develop mesothelioma were exposed decades prior. Characterized by shortness of breath and a persistent cough, once diagnosed, mesothlioma is typically a rapidly progressing disease.

In addition to causing pain and suffering, mesothelioma causes economic hardship for victims and their families. People who develop mesothelioma are often retired and on a limited income, making proper health care and other experiences very challenging on victims and their families. And for people who are still working, mesotheiloma may well leave them physically unable to fulfill on their job requirements, leading to loss of income and additional stressors. At the same time that so many mesothelioma victims become unable to work, they also face staggering medical bills from things like mesothelioma treatment. The experience can be more than challenging, and many families, already dealing with these hardships and their own grief, just need someone to help them find much needed financial assistance.

Many mesothelioma victims and their families find it necessary to turn to the court system to obtain the funds necessary to pay for their extremely high expenses and also to provide much needed assistance to their families in this time of great need. Next week, we will explore that role that an experienced mesothelioma lawyer can play in assisting with this process and helping you understand mesothelioma victim’s rights.

 

Veterans With Mesothelioma

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

United States veterans have sacrificed a great deal so that the citizens of our country could continue to have the quality of life we often take for granted. The collective heroism, bravery, risk and sacrifice of this group are extraordinary. Sadly, it is this group that are also most affected by mesothelioma. That’s because for many years, the U.S. Military used asbestos widely in many applications. Likely as a result of this high level of exposure, veterans make up roughly 30% of all mesothelioma patients.

From the 1930’s to the 1970’s, the U. S. Military used over 300 products containing asbestos, some of them mandated for use because of their fire-retardant properties. In the Air Force, these mesothelioma-linked materials were used with brakes, heat shields, wiring and insulation. In the Army, asbestos was used in buildings as well as parts of vehicles. In the Coast Guard, many areas of the ship including the boiler room and engine were coated with asbestos insulation to prevent fire. Asbestos was also used in ropes. Marines were exposed to asbestos in ships and on land, as asbestos was used widely in both ship building and virtually every military installation. In some cases, enlisted men also participated in asbestos disposal, resulting in further exposure to the toxic material.

In particular, former Naval veterans and Naval shipyard workers have one of the highest risks of developing asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma. The material was used with boilers, gaskets, valves, and floor and pipe coverings in the engine and boiler rooms, navigation rooms, sleep quarters, and mess halls. In fact, there were practically no areas of Naval ships that were free of asbestos.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs does consider applications for benefits when a veteran has been diagnosed with mesothelioma and can prove that the asbestos exposure happened during their service. Even then the VA may not approve the claim. It is extremely helpful to get advice before submitting an application for benefits to the VA. If you or someone you know is a veteran diagnosed with mesothelioma, we encourage you to fill out our online form.

 

Symptoms of Mesothelioma Disease

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Cancer generally begins when genetic mutations cause the cells to multiply. When it comes to mesothelioma causes, the exact process that leads to mesothelioma is not known, but more than 90% of cases are directly linked to asbestos exposure, making this the predominant risk factor for mesothelioma. If the dust from “friable” or airborne asbestos is inhaled or, in some cases, swallowed, asbestos can lodge in the tissue. The resulting irritation may lead to mesothelioma, which can develop undetected over a period of 20 to 40 years. While some people who are exposed over a long period of time never develop mesothelioma, it can develop in others with a very brief exposure. Because of this inconsistency, it is suspected that other factors may influence the risk of mesothelioma. According to the Mayo Clinic, these other possible risk factors include personal history of asbestos exposure, exposure to a certain type of radiation, exposure to a monkey virus through a polio vaccine, and a family history of mesothelioma.

Exposure to asbestos was more common in the United States prior to the 1970’s, before the risks were well known. Unfortunately, even after the risks were well publicized, some companies continued to expose workers to unsafe levels of exposure without proper protection. Because of mesothelioma’s long latency period, some of these people have only recently been diagnosed. Sadly, a diagnosis of mesothelioma often comes with the prognosis of a short life expectancy.

Symptoms of mesothelioma can include chest pain, painful coughing, lumps, and shortness of breath. In the case of peritoneal mesothelioma, victims sometimes experience abdominal pain, swelling, lumps, and weight loss. In many cases, symptoms are subtle and easily misidentified until the disease has progressed significantly.

Being diagnosed with mesothelioma can be devastating to a family both emotionally and financially, as many people who develop the disease are retired and on a limited income, or are forced to quit work because of their inability to perform the necessary tasks. For this reason, it is important to learn about mesothelioma victim’s rights, as victims may find legal assistance very helpful. In many states, courts are very understanding of the needs of mesothelioma patients for a quick outcome, and potentially exhausting meetings and proceedings can kept to a minimum. For more information about services available, please fill out our online form.

 

Mesothelioma: New Vaccine Offers New Hope

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

Last week the Mayo Clinic published a press release about potentially groundbreaking cancer research that may eventually have a real impact on those suffering with mesothelioma. According to the press release, researchers in partnership at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona and the University of Georgia have successfully tested a vaccine in mice that dramatically reduces the type tumors that make up the majority of cancer cases.

Vaccines are not typically used to treat cancers such as mesothelioma because most vaccines work by stimulating the body’s immune system. Because tumors grow from the body’s own cells, the immune system does not recognize these cells as “foreign,” and essentially ignores them. This vaccine, however, is different, as it can target cancerous cells based on a carbohydrate signature present in the proteins on the surface of the cell. When cancer forms at the cellular level, the surface proteins on the cell membranes change. Specifically, a carbohydrate sequence within the protein changes in a distinct way. For many years researchers have been attempting, with no success, to stimulate the immune system to recognize that difference. This new vaccine may do just that.

The tumors studied in these mice, like most tumors in humans, overproduce a protein known as MUC1 on the cellular surface that contains the type of carbohydrate sequence that changes when the cell becomes cancerous. This new vaccine, for the very first time, targets this carbohydrate sequence and steers the immune system to attack cells that carry that sequence. The vaccine operates in three-part harmony, so to speak, each of which is critical to the success of the vaccine. One aspect of the vaccine helps the body’s immune system to mis-identify the carbohydrate sequence as foreign, while the other two aspects stimulate the antibody and lymphocyte responses. The result is astonishing.

What’s more, not only does this particular vaccine tend to cause a very strong immune response, but also the MUC1 sequence it targets is found in a large majority of cancers that kill, including breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and the historically aggressive pancreatic cancer. The vaccine could potentially be used as a prophylactic treatment for high-risk patients or as an alternative when, in cases like pancreatic cancer, surgery is not an option. According to the study’s co-author Geert-Jan Boons, Ph.D., Franklin Professor of Chemistry and a researcher in the UGA Cancer Center, MUC1 is “overexpressed” in 90 percent of patients who have so-called “triple negative” tumors, in which the tumors are not responsive to drugs or hormone therapy and are therefore very aggressive and difficult to treat.

You may be wondering where mesothelioma fits into this picture. Well, according to a research study published in 2008 by an Australian research team, malignant mesothelioma does result in the overexpression of the MUC1 carbohydrate chain. What this means in the long run for mesothelioma treatment is yet uncertain, but the results of the Mayo Clinic study show great promise for the future. According to last weeks’ press release, the research team is now conducting the preliminary research needed to launch a human trial, and if this stage goes well, human trials could begin as early as 2013.