Posts Tagged ‘mesothelioma diagnosis’

What Are Mesothelioma and Cancer?

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

What is mesothelioma, and how does it occur? It’s an all-too-common question, with innumerable answers that may lead to even more questions. The human body is a complex and vulnerable system which can be affected by everything from genetics to our environment. At the Mesothelioma & Asbestos Information Exchange, we try to shed some light on these questions in order to better inform you.

Cancer can occur as a result of impairment of the DNA in human cells. Our bodies are made up an untold number of living cells, from receptor and blood cells to hair cells. Different cells perform different functions in the human body and the majority of cells have DNA. Human cells naturally produce, repair, grow, multiply and die, where new cells take the place of dying ones. With cancer, the altered or impaired DNA and cell do not expire; instead, they continue to multiply with new cells also containing the altered and impaired DNA. While researchers know that some cancer is a result of hereditary or environmental causes, in other cases, the cause isn’t always clear. Furthermore, different types of cancers operate differently. Some cancers may spread, while others do not. The technical name for the spread of cancer to other parts of the human body is metastasis.

Mesothelioma is a form of cancer, which, is a result of impaired cells called mesothelium cells. These mesothelium cells act and behave somewhat like oil in a car, lubricating various body cavities, particularly the thoracic cavity surrounding the lungs. The cancer, as a result of damage to these cells, may result from exposure to asbestos particles. Sometimes, symptoms of the cancer do not appear until decades after exposure. This cancer is often discovered via chest x-ray, CT Scan or biopsy.  Mesothelioma treatment options may include surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

The Mesothelioma Diagonsis

Friday, April 1st, 2011

mesothelioma diagnosis can be a particularly terrible misfortune for those directly and indirectly affected by this terrible disease.  Obviously, a patient afflicted with mesothelioma may suffer a great deal; additionally, loved ones, relatives, dependents, and friends can also suffer misfortune.  Not only is the disease very often lethal, which means those who rely on a victim of mesothelioma for financial or familial support are left woefully adrift, mesothelioma is also remarkably fast-moving, once its symptoms manifest itself.  Indeed, the life expectancy of someone given a mesothelioma diagnosis is often, if not always, measured in mere months.  That often leaves precious little time for a sufferer of mesothelioma to make necessary arrangements to care for his or her dependents.

On a more direct note, such a short time frame means that the patient with a mesothelioma diagnosis has very little time to get the financial and medical resources needed to mount a fight against this terrible disease.  Because of this, it may be helpful to try to secure a mesothelioma settlement to try to combat this rare but brutal form of cancer.

And yet, despite mesothelioma’s often apparently rapid onset, the noticeable physical manifestations of mesothelioma are often the result of a decades-long period of latency.  Mesothelioma is most often caused by exposure to asbestos in the form of inhalation and ingestion.  This moment, where the patient first encounters asbestos, can happen anywhere from 10 to 50 years prior to the physical manifestation of symptoms.  Asbestos fibers often find their way into the lungs or stomach of the victim-to-be, where they embed themselves in that organ’s pleural lining.

One historically common way for people to come into contact with asbestos occurred when that mineral was used in a commercial capacity, such as in the construction or shipbuilding industries.  Alternately, and perhaps more insidiously, asbestos fibers can settle on the clothing of those handling the minerals.  It can then be transported and, conceivably, be inhaled or ingested by anyone coming in close contact with those clothes.

Mesothelioma Diagnosis Help

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

A mesothelioma diagnosis can be devastating, not only for the afflicted patient, but for that person’s friends, family, and dependents.  That’s because mesothelioma, once diagnosed, spreads rapidly, and is very often lethal.  The life expectancy of someone unfortunately given a mesothelioma diagnosis is often measured in months, not years.

Such a brief time period means there isn’t very much time, relative to other diagnoses one might get, to fight the disease, let alone to marshal the finances necessary to do so.  (It’s times like these that securing a mesothelioma settlement can help after receiving the stunning news of a mesothelioma diagnosis.)

Given its rapid advancement after a mesothelioma diagnosis, it might be surprising to learn that the visible symptoms of mesothelioma manifest themselves after decades of dormancy.  That’s right, mesothelioma is the result of a long latency period, during which inhaled or ingested asbestos fibers embed themselves in the pleural lining of the lungs or stomach.

Asbestos fibers, historically, have often been inhaled by workers handling them, or by family members handling that worker’s clothing or living with him or her.  Asbestos is a mineral that has very feathery, fibrous, low-density physical characteristics, so when it’s handled, it’s easy to become airborne, which is when it becomes dangerous.

These characteristics, incidentally, are what made asbestos such a prized mineral in the shipbuilding and construction industries, where it was most often employed for its insulating and fire retardant properties.  Its low density also made it a useful additive in concrete, which lowered transportation and construction costs while simultaneously strengthening the concrete.

Unfortunately, asbestos has subsequently proven that it can be a killer.

If you or someone you love has a mesothelioma diagnosis, it might be in your best interest to consider securing a mesothelioma settlement.  It may help defray the staggering costs associated with such an unfortunate turn of events.

What Are the Causes of Mesothelioma?

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

Causes of mesothelioma are usually pretty well-known among those who spend a significant amount of time dealing with mesothelioma litigation, and to any regular visitor of this blog, or its parent site, the Mesothelioma Help Network, this post likely won’t open any new eyes.  Nevertheless, we like to make sure that new visitors are caught up to speed about what makes this devastating, largely incurable disease strike.

There may be other causes of mesothelioma, but the one it’s most commonly associated with, especially as it pertains to mesothelioma law, is asbestos exposure.  Asbestos exposure was prevalent for centuries because, during that time, it was highly prized for its properties as an insulant and a fire retardant in the shipbuilding and construction industries.  The mineral’s fibrous form also made it much lighter than other alternatives, which was another reason it was so coveted.  However, its lightweight, fibrous nature allowed it to become airborne easily by workers mining for it.  And, once airborne, asbestos is easily inhaled.  It also settles on clothing, which can transport the fibers to a worker’s home, where his family members can inhale them.

Once inhaled, the fibers travel to the mesothelium, which is the lining of the lungs or the stomach.  There, the asbestos fibers cannot be broken down, so they remain, where they often cause the mesothelium cells to divide and subdivide unchecked.  Following a latency period lasting anywhere from 10 to 50 years, the cancer in the mesothelioma starts to rapidly advance, causing shortness of breath and a lingering cough.

Once the symptoms of mesothelioma begin to manifest themselves, the disease advances with what can be alarming rapidity.  The life expectancy of someone diagnosed with this brutal disease is often measured in months, not years.  Sadly, though promising treatments are being developed on a regular basis, there is no cure.

Mesothelioma Cases in Italy Ruled “Negligent Homicide”

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

Here’s an intriguing bit of news on the mesothelioma law front: three former executives of the massive, Trieste, Italy-based shipbuilding company Fincantieri have been convicted of “negligent homicide” in light of the fact that 37 employees died due to asbestos exposure.

According to an article posted on the Canadian news source site The Province, the three executives were jailed and given sentences ranging from three to 7 1/2 years.  A sum that was either undisclosed or not specifically reported by The Province, but was nevertheless noted to be in the millions of dollars, was also part of the damages secured.

The decision against the Fincantieri executives stems from the apparent fact that the shipbuilding company continued to use asbestos in the construction of its ships until 1999.  For a little perspective, Italy outlawed the use of asbestos as a construction material back in 1996.  The three years of oversight was enough for the court to find the former executives guilty.

Asbestos, a fibrous material used for its valuable insulation properties, was an integral element in the shipbuilding industry for many years.  Some of the many uses of asbestos in the field were the insulation of pipes, gaskets, boilers, and engines.  Unfortunately, asbestos also causes devastating lung diseases, among them mesothelioma, an insidious cancer that has no known cure.

It sounds like the plaintiffs in this case got what appears to be a pretty aggressive and savvy law firm working for them.  That’s good to hear.  Though a successful mesothelioma settlement can’t undo the ravages that this disease causes on a victim’s lungs, it can help mitigate the medical expenses left behind for the bereaved to deal with.  That can be useful, considering the massive and rapidly accruing expenses often associated with experimental treatments and quickly advancing diseases.

And, like the conviction of the former executives of Fincantieri might indicate, these settlements are also capable of achieving another purpose: justice.

Mesothelioma Research: Immuno-Gene Therapy

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

There’s more good news for mesothelioma treatment on the horizon.  According to an article posted on the always-helpful Asbestos.com, a promising treatment for this disease might lie in immuno-gene therapy.  This cutting-edge treatment method involves boosting the immune system through a variety of methods.  One involves the introduction of a virus whose genetic material has been altered to include a normal, human gene into the area where the mesothelioma is.  When this virus enters cancer cells, it triggers those cells to begin producing normal proteins, not defective ones.  Another method involves the introduction of coated DNA into the system.

Though immuno-gene therapy is a potentially fertile region for discovery, there are some hang-ups regarding this treatment.  First, there are concerns that the body’s own immune system, despite being comprised, might reject the infectious cells rapidly.  From a legal perspective, since the FDA has yet to approve immuno-gene therapy, the treatment is only available to those patients who qualify for clinical trials.  Still, it could be a step in the right direction.

About Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is an insidious and startlingly effective killer.  It is caused by asbestos, a fibrous mineral formerly prized in many industries, and particularly in ship-building and construction, for its excellent flame-retardant and insulation properties.  Unfortunately, for all its utility, asbestos fibers, when inhaled, can utterly ravage the lungs.  One way it does this is by fibers getting embedded in the pleural lining of the lungs.  This can happen without noticeable adverse affects for up to 50 years; however, once the mesothelioma’s onset occurs, patients rapidly deteriorate.  For all the forward advancements the medical field offers on a regular basis, the life expectancy of those diagnosed with this devastating, rare disease is often measured in months, not not years.

Nevertheless, we here at the Mesothelioma Help Network eagerly hope that science will one day catch up to this brutal cancer, rendering it a curable disease.  Who knows?  One of these experimental treatments on the horizon just might point the way to such a future.

NGR-hTNF Phase Trials

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

According to a promising article posted by the fine folks over at AboutMesothelioma.net, an experimental drug used for treating cancer, known as NGR-hTNF, had positive results when used as a means of treating mesothelioma.

According to the study, 57 patients who had already received chemotherapy treatment and had experienced a relapse of the disease were given the drug.  NGR-hTNF combines an amino acid sequence known as a peptide with a protein that helps bolster the immune system’s response to tumor growth.  The drug seemed to be somewhat effective at temporarily stopping the advance of the cancer, which affects the pleural lining of the lung, in 26 of the patients.  The length of the effectiveness appeared to be five months, and the median length of survival for patients was 12 months.

This might seem like bleak and not-particularly-good news, but mesothelioma is such a ravaging and devastating disease that any bit of news like this is emphatically good news.  With a cancer like mesothelioma, where the prognosis is almost always death and where the lifespan of those diagnosed is often measured in months, not years, every step forward is a great leap in the right direction.

Mesothelioma Treatment

If you are diagnosed with this devastating disease, it might be a good idea to contact an experienced mesothelioma lawyer with a proven track record of success.  When picking such a lawyer or law firm, be sure to do your homework.  Taking their win/loss ratio into account is usually a good tactic.  Though previous case histories don’t guarantee a particular outcome, since each case is different, you might be able to look at it as an indicator of the competence of the lawyer in question.

Though a mesothelioma diagnosis is a terrible affliction, there are constantly advances in treatments, many of which can improve the quality of life of victims.  Who knows—one day, if we’re lucky, this disease might be easily curable.  We have hope.

How Mesothelioma is Diagnosed

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

Mesothelioma is a deadly disease that develops very quickly.  Sadly, and all too often, the life expectancy of a mesothelioma patient can be measured in months, not years or decades.  Strangely, however, this rapid advancement can occur after a lengthy latency period of up to 50 years wherein asbestos fibers can lay in the lining of the lungs without ill effects.  Because of its rapid onset and lethality, it’s essential to diagnose mesothelioma as early as possible in order to maintain a relatively high quality of life.

A typical mesothelioma diagnosis could begin with a patient noticing symptoms including chest pain, fatigue, shortness of breath, and wheezing.  The patient might pay a visit to her general practitioner.  At this point, the general practitioner could decide to refer the patient to a specialist, who might run a series of tests to determine the source of the symptoms.

Mesothelioma Tests

Though this is not the only way a diagnosis is performed, some typical procedures follow.  One such procedure might be a chest X-ray.  This simple X-ray is often capable of detecting any major abnormalities in the patient’s lungs, such as a thickening of the pleura, the membrane that surrounds the lungs.  Pleura thickening is a sign of mesothelioma, but it could also mean something else, so further tests are often needed.  One such test is the CT scan, which provides a 3-D image of the scanned area.  Its goal is to detect the position of any tumor or pleural thickening.  Two other procedures which require samples are pleural aspirations and biopsies.  The pleural aspiration uses a syringe to take a sample of any fluid found in the pleura, which can then be checked for mesoethelioma cells.  A biopsy involves passing a specially designed needle through the skin and into the tumor or thickened pleura with the intent of searching for traces of the cancer.

Get Your Mesothelioma Tests Quickly, and Take Action

Being subjected to these tests can be stressful, and waiting for results can be an anxious time, but it can be a better tactic to undergo them as soon as possible.  An early warning, combined with aggressive treatment, can mean the difference between measuring the rest of your life in years as opposed to mere months.  Your quality of life might also be improved, as well.

New Studies: Tea Tree Oil and Mesothelioma

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

What a week it’s been for mesothelioma research.  In the past two days alone, there have been reports on two separate and promising studies that could have excellent implications for victims of this brutal cancer.

The first was reported on Suriving Mesothelioma yesterday and pertains to a study conducted by researchers at the School of Biomedical, Biomolecular and Chemical Sciences at The University of Western Australia.  Researchers studied the effects of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil and terpinen-4-ol (a substance widely believed to be the active ingredient in tea tree oil) on a mesothelioma cell in vitro.  The result: dead mesothelioma cells.  In addition, the more tea tree oil and terpinen-4-ol the researchers added, the more significantly inhibited the growth of the mesothelioma cells turned out to be.  The substances not only caused the cells to die, but they stopped them from reproducing.  What’s more, the added mixture seemed to be significantly less dangerous to non-tumor cells, which makes these extracts more viable as potential bases for mesothelioma-fighting techniques.

The second study, conducted by University of Washington researchers and reported on today at Mesothelioma.com, might be even more extraordinary.  There, scientists tapped into the rapidly burgeoning field of nanotechnology to deliver a potential blow to mesothelioma.  The researchers are investigating the potential of a toxin known as melittin, which is found in bee venom, to combat the cancer.  Although melittin would destroy cells indiscriminately if left to its own devices, scientists are working on equipping the toxin in tiny nanoparticles known as “nanobees” (so named due to their cargo) to specifically target cancer cells.  The delivery system, while sounding incredibly sci-fi, is actually similar to a technique already being developed to combat ovarian cancer, and it represents a further potential application of the technology.

Obviously, these are just studies, which means that any commercial use of these findings is still a ways off.  Still, they offer encouraging hope for people suffering from the effects of asbestos exposure.

Testing Method Improves Mesothelioma Diagnosis

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

Mesothelioma diagnosis just got significantly more effective thanks to a new testing method that combines preexisting tests already independently used to detect the cancer.  According to an article posted on Surviving Mesothelioma, researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston came to this conclusion after employing the experimental method on 48 patients suspected of having mesothelioma.  The result: a near doubling of the sensitivity rate of the tests.

The researchers, led by Rachel Factor, an instructor of pathology at Boston Medical Center, collected cells using cytological methods, which involves studying tissue taken from patients on a cellular level.  Cytological methods of detection are considered favorable because they depend upon small samples that do not require invasive techniques to acquire.  The flip side of this ease is that such methods can be inaccurate.  Looking at irritated but otherwise normal cells from the lung lining can look remarkably similar to mesothelioma, for example.

After harvesting the cells, the researchers subjected the samples to not one but two genetic tests.  The first, called karyotyping, involves analyzing the cells’ chromosomes to look for any irregularities that would point toward cancer.  The second, known as flourescent in situ hybridization, or FISH, uses fluorescent probes to detect specific lengths of DNA in chromosomes.  When the researchers applied the modified test to the 48 patients, they noticed a doubling in the detection of mesothelioma.

This is great news, obviously, but the test has room for improvement.  Chief among them is (still) accuracy.  Even after the aforementioned doubling in detection, the sensitivity of the test was still only marked at 60%.  That means that the opportunity for false-negative results is unacceptably high.  One way the researchers could improve the test’s sensitivity is by employing additional FISH probes.  The only problem with that is, many of these probes are not yet commercially available.  Additional research, experimentation, and studies are needed before this test can be fully perfected.  Still, this is a huge step in the right direction, one which may lead to an improvement in the early detection and treatment of this disease and the quality of life of its sufferers.