Archive for the ‘mesothelioma’ Category

Mesothelioma Treatment: Nutrition

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

When undergoing treatment for mesothelioma, nutrition can play a vital role in the outcome of and the quality of life during treatment. Eating foods high in protein, along with fruits, vegetables and whole grains can help prepare the body for the stress of treatments. Unfortunately, mesothelioma patients commonly experience a loss of appetite during mesothelioma treatment due to effects of chemotherapy or the disease itself.

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), certain practices can aid in this process. Because tastebuds often change during chemotherapy, foods may lose their former appeal or even become unpleasant. To avoid a loss of nutrients, the ACS suggests trying alternative foods such as plant-based foods like peas and beans that may be more palatable. Limiting certain foods and beverages, such as alcohol and pickled and cured foods, can help as well. The ACS also recommends eating five colorful servings of fruits and vegetables each day, including dark green and deep yellow vegetables, as these contain phytochemicals that are very beneficial nutrients. In addition, maintaining as much physical acidity as possible will aid in overall health and well-being. Finally, cooking large meals and storing plenty of food in the pantry and freezer will help reduce overall work and stress sometimes involved in meal preparation.

Seeking support can also make a big difference. Among the various mesothelioma and asbestos resources, nutritionists can be very helpful for patients who are going through mesothelioma therapy. Nutritionists can help design a specific plan to help prevent malnutrition and muscle and bone wasting. A good nutrition plan may also help patients handle aggressive treatments, fight infection, and maintain the strength and energy needed for a better quality of life during and after treatment. Finally, a support structure of friends and neighbors can be vital to implementing a nutrition plan. If you or someone you love has mesothelioma, don’t be afraid to ask for support for assistance with tasks like shopping and meal preparation. This can provide a way for people who care to offer much needed support.


Complementary or Alternative Therapy

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

When diagnosed with mesothelioma, many patients are faced with a difficult prognosis. Because mesothelioma remains latent for many years, by the time symptoms are clear enough to warrant a diagnosis, the patient’s life expectancy is, in many cases, less than a year. While mesothelioma therapy and treatment may help, to date there are no known cures for mesothelioma. In the process of dealing with mesothelioma and its symptoms, many patients look for alternatives to mainstream mesothelioma treatment. To avoid costly and even harmful effects, it is important for people to understand more about complementary and alternative therapies.

Complementary therapies refer to methods that are used along with current medical care. They are not represented as cures, but instead are used to help alleviate symptoms. Some of the complementary therapies available are safe and can be quite helpful. Some people report that acupuncture can help reduce the experience of pain, and that certain teas can counteract nausea. According to the Mayo Clinic, several such therapies, including acupuncture, breath training, relaxation and meditation techniques have all shown promise in helping to relieve patients’ experience of breathlessness that is common to the disease. They also advise that sitting next to a fan can also help reduce the experience of breathlessness.

Alternative treatments refer to those that would replace mainstream or traditional therapies and treatments. While the idea of an alternative treatment can be very appealing to someone who has a debilitating disease like mesothelioma, there are currently no known treatments that cure mesothelioma. What’s more, many of the alternative treatments available have not been clinically tested for effectiveness or safety. Using these treatments in place of standard care can have many unfortunate consequences. Delaying standard treatment may have in impact on insurance coverage, while at the same time allowing the cancer to grow more quickly and become harder to treat.

The American Cancer Society recommends that anyone considering complementary or alternative mesothelioma treatments take certain steps to ensure that they are well informed of the known benefits and risks. Be aware of the possibility of fraudulent claims, and carefully research any products or therapies you are considering. Be sure to discuss these options with your medical professional, as they may have more information that could be critical to your health and well being.

The National Cancer Institute offers a online guide for people considering Complementary or Alternative medicine. The guide reviews several types of therapies, with examples of each, and offers links to several useful resources.


Study Highlights DIY Risks of Mesothelioma

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

A recent study in Australia confirmed that without certain precautions, do-it-yourself home renovation in homes build prior to 1980 may lead to increased risk of mesothelioma.

Australia has some of the strictest regulations on the uses of asbestos. In general, Australian workers in industries affected by mesothelioma tend to be well organized and vocal when it comes to protecting their health and safety. Lately, concern has been raised over risks of exposure to asbestos associated with home renovation. Results from a recent study published by researchers at the University of Western Australia provide evidence that the concern may be well warranted.

The study identified the primary source of asbestos in each confirmed mesothelioma case in Western Australia between 1960 and 2008, and analyzed the results for insights into the relative risk of certain activities. The results showed a marked increase since 1980 in the incidence of asbestos exposure through renovation. The study also showed that, in the last 4 years, approximately 36% of women and 9% of men diagnosed with mesothelioma identified home renovation as their primary source of asbestos exposure.

The results of this study are relevant in any part of the world. As homes built before 1980 begin to show signs of wear, they are being renovated more frequently. A large percentage of these homes were built using products that contain asbestos. Demolition, sanding, and drilling can disturb and release toxic dust from hidden asbestos, putting workers and homeowners at risk for developing mesothelioma.

The EPA has guidelines for identifying and addressing asbestos in the home, including information about where asbestos can be found, when it can be a problem, and how to identify materials containing asbestos. The EPA also lists “Asbestos Do’s and Don’t for the Homeowner” that give some valuable guidelines for home repairs, renovations and asbestos disposal.


Possible New Mesothelioma Treatment

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

In June of 2011, the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Medicine published the results of promising new research in the treatment of mesothelioma. The study, involving 28 patients, compared the traditional method of extrapleural pnumonectomy (EPP), which involves the removal of a lung, and a unique combination of lung-sparing surgery and photodynamic therapy (PDT). To the surprise of the researchers, the patients who received PDT and lung-sparing surgery have, as a group, shown an unusually long survival rate.

Mesothelioma is a very aggressive form of cancer that usually develops in the lining of the lungs called the pleura. Initially, mesothelioma tends to develop slowly, usually developing 10 to 50 years after exposure to asbestos. Because mesothelioma presents few symptoms until it reaches an advanced stage, the large majority of patients are given less than a year to live.

In this study, 14 of the 28 patients studied received a traditional course of mesothelioma treatment. Because the malignant cells can envelope the entire lung, the traditional EPP method of treatment involves a combination of lung removal, chemotherapy and radiation. After treatment, this group had an average survival rate of 8.4 months, which is consistent with historical results from this type of treatment. The results of the PDT group, however, surprised researchers.

The 14 patients who received the alternative treatment underwent a less extensive “lung sparing” surgical procedure, which involved the removal of a limited amount of lung tissue. This procedure was combined with PDT, which uses light both to diminish the disease and to stimulate the immune system. PDT, which stops at the tissue itself, is also much less invasive than radiation, which penetrates the entire body. The results of this approach far exceeded the expectations of researchers. In fact, two years after the study began, the median survival rate of this group of patients has not been reached.

The Penn Mesothelioma and Pleural Program continues to study these and other methods, offering a truly multidisciplinary approach to the study of mesothelioma, mesothelioma treatment and mesothelioma therapy.


Asbestos, Mesothelioma and the EPA

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

In 1970, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was created by an act of Congress to protect the air, land, and water of the United States.  Since then, the responsibilities of the EPA have expanded to include the protection of US citizens from environmental contaminants. One such contaminate is asbestos, a fibrous mineral linked to Mesothelioma and lung cancer. The EPA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), have together created regulations and guidelines to promote safe handling of asbestos and asbestos disposal in industries and homes.

The EPA is responsible for enforcing two laws that impact the uses of asbestos—the Clean Air Act (CAA) and the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The Nation Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for Asbestos (Section 112 of the CAA) identifies who is required to notify local and state agencies prior to demolition, and in some cases, obtain certification and licensing. This is because disturbing materials that contain asbestos may be more dangerous than leaving them alone, as certain types of asbestos only become “friable” (or airborne) when disturbed.

The TSCA addresses both the regulation of asbestos contamination in public and private schools, and the requirements regarding the use of accredited inspectors and abatement contractors when addressing asbestos remediation in schools, and public or commercial buildings.

In addition to the regulation of asbestos use, abatement and remediation, the EPA provides information to the public on the dangers or asbestos and the proper handling of it. For more on asbestos, mesothelioma-linked materials and asbestos-related health infirmities like Mesothelioma, check out the EPA asbestos webpage.  For more information from the EPA about what to do if you think you might have asbestos in your home, click here.  To find out if your state has training and certification programs for asbestos abatement contractors, call the TSCA Assistance HotLine at (202) 554-1404.



File a Mesothelioma Lawsuit

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

Mesothelioma is a very challenging disease. Not only does the disease cause pain and suffering, it also can leave families in financial stress. By the time most people who have mesothelioma are diagnosed, the large majority is either retired or unable to work due to symptoms of the disease. Many mesothelioma victims are therefore left dealing with a lack of income combined with high medical bills, and many face the additional challenge of having no health insurance. As a result, many victims of mesothelioma seek legal settlements to take care of these expenses.

When considering pressing a legal suit against a company that made or handled asbestos products unsafely, many people question their right to legal compensation. Public knowledge of the dangers of asbestos has existed for hundreds of years, becoming very well publicized in the US in the 1920’s and 30’s. Unfortunately, the industries affected by mesothelioma include many companies who chose not to protect their workers, despite these risks. As a result, in many cases, mesothelioma victim’s rights also include legal compensation.

Many mesothelioma victims have never engaged in a legal suit. When seeking legal assistance, there are a few guidelines that will help greatly. When selecting a lawyer, make sure that the lawyer you are talking to will be the one handling your case, and not handing your case off to someone else. Be sure to check the lawyer’s track record with similar mesothelioma cases to confirm that they are consistently successful with this type of case. Also, the location in which you file your case can make a difference in the result. While some state laws are generally supportive of victims’ rights to compensation, others can be very restrictive.

A concern for many families when considering a law suit is whether they can handles the physical stress of legal appointments and court appearances. Fortunately, most lawyers who are experienced in these types of cases are very sensitive to the needs of victims and their families, and do their best to handle most things by phone. For more information about your legal rights, please contact us at 1-888-370-0121, or complete our online form.


Asbestos Containing Materials

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Asbestos has been a highly desirable material for more than 2000 years for its fire-retardant qualities. Although lung problems were noticed in ancient Greece and by Roman slaves who wove asbestos into cloth, it wasn’t until 1924 that the first diagnosis of “asbestosis” was made following the death of a 35-year-old woman who had been working with asbestos since she was 13 years old. In the 1920’s and 30’s, medical journals began publishing the results of studies that showed links between asbestos and cancer. Since then, governments around the world have implemented laws and regulations to protect their citizens.  However, companies around the world are still manufacturing products that include asbestos or are handling products that still contain it.

Today many workers around the world are still being exposed to mesothelioma-linked materials. In Minnesota, a team of health professionals is studying deaths caused by mesothelioma among workers who mined asbestos-laced taconite in the Iron Range. These professors from the University of Minnesota have shown the incidence of death from cancer to be considerably higher than normal. They recently increased the total of deaths in 2010 to 82 from the previous 63, after tracking workers who left the state and later died from mesothelioma.

Within the same week, a group of former Scottish ship workers were successful in their case against several insurance agencies that were trying to avoid compensating the workers for damages associated with exposure to asbestos in the shipyards. The companies were attempting to overturn the Damages Act of 2009 (an Act of the Scottish Parliament), which allows patients suffering from pleural plaques to file claims for compensation. These pleural plaques are malformations of lung tissue that develop around asbestos fibers and may later develop into mesothelioma. The insurance companies claim that the pleural plaques present no symptoms and therefore cause no physical harm, therefore requiring no compensation, as damages are nonexistent. Advocates of the act claim that the compensation is necessary, as many of these patients are aware that their condition could may develop into mesothelioma, requiring a great deal of expense to cover mesothelioma treatment and therapy.

In Australia, a group of shipyard workers complained that the ship they were working on contained a large amount of asbestos in the gasket material. The workers claim to have been exposed for up to 24 hours. Apparently the boat, a tugboat, was built in China, where uses of asbestos are frequent.

So far, some industries’ regulations of asbestos use have not accounted for the reality that China and other countries are  mining asbestos and exporting it. A combination of inconsistent regulations, global trade and the challenges of enforcement make it very difficult to protect workers in some areas and industries around the world.


Chrysotile Asbestos and Vermiculite

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

In recent years, Do-It-Yourself home improvement projects have become more popular. Homeowners are using the Internet to educate themselves on how to do anything from electrical work and small plumbing projects to drywall repair. Unfortunately, many homeowners are unaware of the potential risks of exposure to asbestos. While some homes today do contain some asbestos, little attention is given to the potential dangers because undisturbed, asbestos-linked materials may pose little or no risk to health.

According to the EPA, 70% of all vermiculite sold in the US between 1919 and 1990 came from a mine in Libby, Montana, which was later discovered to be contaminated with asbestos. When tearing down walls or working in the attic, disturbing vermiculite insulation may result in exposure to asbestos. If you have a question about whether your insulation is vermiculite, visit the EPA’s website on vermiculite, where they have photos showing the various forms of vermiculite insulation.

Some older homes contain vinyl floor tiles, which also contain chrysotile asbestos. When left alone, this form of asbestos poses little risk, because it is sealed inside the mastic, or adhesive matrix. However, when these vinyl floor tiles are removed without proper precautions, asbestos may be released into the air. When taking on a DIY project that involves the use of mesothelioma-linked materials, it is also important to consider asbestos disposal.

There are, in fact, many uses of asbestos in construction materials. Asbestos is still used as an additive to some cement mixes, as well as certain roofing tiles. With DIY projects on the rise, people working in older homes may inadvertently damage an asbestos-containing material. For that reason, it is critical that all DIY projects start with research and planning. If you have any questions about mesothelioma or the uses of asbestos, visit our mesothelioma and asbestos FAQ page.


Palliative Care for Mesothelioma

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

Victims of mesothelioma face a number of challenging symptoms that can make an already difficult process even more stressful. Fortunately, good quality palliative care may help relieve or at least manage many of these symptoms. Palliative care is care designed to make patients as comfortable as possible.

Dealing with pain is often an unfortunate part of mesothelioma. However, pain can sometimes be successfully managed with pharmacological therapy that follows the World Health Organization’s pain ladder, a stepped approach to pain medication that is based on the severity of pain and the source of the pain. A good pain management plan is an important part of mesothelioma therapy and should be designed by a pain management specialist.

Shortness of breath and fatigue are other common symptoms that can sometimes be helped through a variety of treatments. Medications and/or oxygen are sometimes used to treat shortness of breath. Relaxation, changes in position can also sometimes make a difference. Nutrition, stress management, or exercise may help alleviate fatigue, depending on the reasons behind the fatigue.

Mesothelioma patients sometimes develop dry mouth as a result of dehydration, medication or treatment side effects, depression, anxiety or dehydration. Whatever the cause, dry mouth can be relieved in a number of ways. When appropriate, increasing fluids can help. But sometimes, dry mouth persists. In that case, sucking on ice chips or Vitamin C tablets, chewing gum, or using an air humidifier can all help alleviate a dry mouth.

Loss of appetite is another common problem with patients suffering from mesothelioma. Nutrition is a big part of a mesothelioma patient’s overall well being. Loss of appetite can result in loss of weight, which can complicate and exacerbate some symptoms. Eating smaller, more frequent meals that are high in calories and protein can help maintain a patient’s balanced nutritional Intake.

Cancer patients can also encounter problems with their skin. Itchy or dry skin, rashes, sores and ulcers can all be part of a cancer patient’s reality. Drinking plenty of water and using adequate moisturizers can help dry skin. A bath filled with baking soda can sometimes reduce itching. Clean sheets and towels free from heavy detergents will help as well.

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may want to spend some time reading our mesothelioma blog and mesothelioma articles. Being informed is one of the best strategies for planning quality palliative care.


MARF Mesothelioma Awareness Day

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

September 26th was National Mesothelioma Awareness Day, and all over the country, groups and organizations planned events to call attention to the disease mesothelioma and pay tribute to its victims. The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation started Mesothelioma Awareness Day in 2004.

According to Maja Belarmic, the foundation’s Director of Outreach, the disease is not getting the attention it deserves because of its rarity. The foundation hopes to raise money to fund research, develop better treatments, and hopefully a cure. Currently, the most effective approved mesothelioma treatment may extend life for an average of three months.

Not only have there been few breakthroughs in the early detection and treatment of mesothelioma, but also the likely cause of mesothelioma, asbestos, is still relatively widespread. According to the foundation, the nation is likely to see an increased rate of cases as a result of the September 2001 collapse of the Twin Towers, which released hundreds of tons of asbestos into the air. While asbestos presents little danger when left undisturbed, when asbestos fibers become friable (released into the air), they can then be inhaled into the lungs, where then can cause great damage depending on the type of asbestos, length and level of exposure and other factors.

While the last four decades have seen regulations with regard to the handling and uses of asbestos, asbestos is not banned in the United States, a fact that has been a point of debate.

In 2007, “Meso Awareness Day” raised over $4 million dollars toward research and treatment of the disease. The day has gained momentum every year since it’s beginning, so this years fundraising is likely to well exceed that amount.

In some cases, victims have developed mesothelioma as a result of working in industries affected by mesothelioma. In these cases, victims are sometimes awarded settlement to help compensate for expensive medical bills, as well the pain and suffering incurred by the victim and their loved ones. To find out more about possible compensation for victims of mesothelioma, visit our Mesothelioma Victim’s Rights page or fill out our online form, and we will be in contact with you as soon as possible.