Custom Search

Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Mesothelioma Mess

Have you ever realized that with asbestos being used all around us, we might be inhaling a potential source of cancer 24/7? Occupational exposure to asbestos has been found to be associated with a life threatening disease called mesothelioma.

About 2,000 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed in the United States each year.Themedguru explores the different aspects associated with malignant mesothelioma and its possible cure.

Explaining the Term Mesothelium

The mesothelium is a membrane that covers and protects your internal organs. It also secretes a lubricating fluid that allows your organs to glide through adjacent structures. It is due to this membrane that your heart can breathe and lungs expand and contract, all at the same time.

The mesothelium is known by different names depending upon its location in the body. The mesothelial membrane covering most organs in the abdominal cavity is called peritoneum, while that covering the lungs and the walls of the chest cavity is called the pleura.

What Is Malignant Mesothelioma

Malignant mesothelioma or simply mesothelioma is a type of cancerdefine that affects the mesothelium. When a person’s mesothelium gets malignant, it begins to grow uncontrollably, thus causing damage to the nearby organs. Cancer cells can also spread to the other parts of the body from its site of origin. Usually, mesothelioma originates in either the peritoneum or the pleura.

Role Played by Asbestos in Causing Mesothelioma

Asbestos is the culprit behind causing malignant mesothelioma. The first commercial use of asbestos began in the early 19th century. It was during World War II, when its commercial use increased by many folds. It was during this time that millions of commercial workers all over the world started being exposed to asbestos dust, grossly unaware of its ill effects and its potential of causing cancer.

The passage of time revealed the risks associated with asbestos when workers from asbestos mines, mills, producers of asbestos products, workers in the heating and construction industries and other trades people started developing certain common symptoms, which subsequently resulted into mesothelioma.

Symptoms of Mesothelioma

The problem with mesothelioma is that, after being exposed to asbestos dust it takes around 30 to 50 years for its symptoms to surface. The symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma may include:
• weight loss
• abdominal paindefine
• swelling due to a buildup of fluid in the abdomendefine
• bowel obstruction
• blood clotting abnormalities
• fever

The symptoms of pleura mesothelioma include shortness of breath and pain in the chest due to an accumulation of fluid in the pleura. If the mesothelioma spreads to the other parts of the body, its symptoms might include pain, trouble swallowing, or swelling of the neck or face.

Detection of the Disease

The very fact that the symptoms of mesothelioma are quite similar to that of scores of other diseases, diagnosis of the disease becomes all the more difficult. Your doctor might be interested in knowing the history of the ailment and if an association with asbestos comes to the forefront, he might be required to carry out a thorough check up. The conformation of a malignant mesothelium can be made only through a biopsy.

If at all a biopsy confirms malignancy, the doctor would like to know how far it has spread which will also reveal the stage of cancer. Depending upon the stage, the doctor would like to advice a suitable treatment.

Mesothelioma Treatment

The treatment prescribed by a doctor would depend upon many factors such as the location of the cancer, stage of cancer, the patient’s age and his general health. The doctor might then select one or a combination of the following treatment options:
• Radiationdefine therapy
• Chemotherapy
• Surgery

In addition, your doc might also be required to drain out the fluid that has built up within your chest or abdominal cavity. For this, he could make use of a needle or a thin tube.

Prevention of Mesothelioma

In certain cases, the family members of asbestos workers have also developed the ailment, primarily due to the asbestos dust brought home through the clothes and hair of the workers. Today, it has been made mandatory for all workers to shower and change clothes before leaving for home. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has also established strict limits for determining the maximum level of asbestos in a workplace. Those exposed to asbestos are also required to wear certain protective equipments to lower the risk of cancer.

Considering the fact that several asbestos manufacturing companies kept toying with their hazardous produce and floating it irresponsibly in the open market in spite of being fully aware of their potential risks, makes them criminals in the eyes of law. If you are also a victim of this selfish act, you have a right to approach the court of law and demand for compensation. Although the compensation will never be able to get back your lost health, it could be of help to you in more than one way….for sure.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Causes for mesothelioma cancer

The causes of mesothelioma have been under study for several decades. It is estimated that nine out of ten cases of mesothelioma are caused by exposure to asbestos, the mineral which was once widely used in construction materials, brake pad linings, and hundreds of other products found in everyday life. Other possible but as yet unproven causes of mesothelioma cancer are discussed below.

Genetic Mutation of Cells

According to the Mayo Clinic, the causes of mesothelioma can be traced to the genetic mutation that turns healthy cells into cancer cells. These abnormal cells multiply randomly and don't die as normal cells do. The accumulation of cancer cells forms a tumor, which can invade other body tissues and spread further through the body.

It's not yet known what causes the genetic mutation that leads to the cancer mesothelioma, and the interaction of several factors appears to affect its incidence:

· Inherited conditions
· A given individual's environment
· Overall health
· Lifestyle choices such as smoking

Asbestos Exposure Initiates Mutation

This genetic mutation can apparently be initiated when asbestos fibers lodge in the lungs or other internal organs. Some 2,000 to 3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer each year in the United States alone. Nearly all of these unfortunate individuals have asbestos exposure in their history. However, a complete determination of the exact causes of mesothelioma is desirable and would be very helpful in the fight to find a cure for this devastating disease.
A Nationwide Study of the Causes of Mesothelioma

A large-scale research and clinical study with the purpose of finding out more about the causes of mesothelioma is being conducted in the United Kingdom. This "National Study of Occupation and Lung Diseases" is designed to more closely identify causes of mesothelioma among the thousands of victims in the UK, and the results will shed light on causes of mesothelioma in individuals all over the world.
Other Causes of Mesothelioma Cancer

In studies using animals, the Simian virus (SV40) was found to cause mesothelioma. Some polio vaccines given during the mid-1950s to the early 1960s were found to be contaminated with SV40, but no definitive link between SV40 and mesothelioma has been established.

In contrast, there are a handful of documented cases of mesothelioma in patients who underwent x-ray imaging that used thorium dioxide. These x-rays have not been in use for many years because of the link between thorium dioxide and cancer.

If you are concerned about the causes of mesothelioma in someone you know, contact mesothelioma treatment center for more information.

Investigation finds many schools contain asbestos

Investigation finds many schools contain asbestos

Most state school buildings in South East England contain asbestos, according to an investigation.

The BBC's Inside Out programme revealed the potentially-deadly material remains in more than 90 per cent of schools.

Kent, Medway, Sussex, Brighton and Surrey councils all revealed a high proportion of properties affected.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said it would be dangerous to remove asbestos sealed inside buildings.

However, John Walder, secretary of the NUT Kent branch, said: "The NUT's view is quite clear, we think that the solution is the complete removal of asbestos from all the working spaces.

"As long as local authorities do not remove asbestos from a site, there will be a risk of fibres getting into the atmosphere and getting into people's lungs."

Dr Robin Howie, an independent asbestos consultant, said the number of teachers dying of asbestos-related diseases in the UK had risen from about one every two years to more than five a year.

He said:"We are looking at a substantially higher number of mesothelioma deaths in teachers than we would expect.

"What it means is that teacher mesotheliomas are important because they are the tip of the iceberg. And that iceberg are the mesotheliomas in children."

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Mesothelioma Symptoms

Mesothelioma Symptoms
Mesothelioma symptoms are not specific to the disease; that is, many mesothelioma symptoms are also symptoms of other medical problems.Most studies show that the symptoms of mesotheliomausually begin to appear 30 to 40 years after exposure to asbestos. Thus, many mesothelioma patients are unaware that the symptoms they are experiencing are related to something that happened much earlier in their lives. Even a short period of asbestos exposure (as little as a few months) can create the conditions for a disease that erupts much later in life.
Mesothelioma affects the lining of various cavities in the body. Over time, the growth of cancerous tumors causes these tissues to expand and gather fluid. The presence of excess fluid is typically what causes the symptoms to occur. Mesothelioma symptoms also depend on the location of the tumors.

Pleural Mesothelioma Symptoms
For pleural mesothelioma, or mesothelioma of the lining surrounding the lung, common symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pain and a persistent cough. Unfortunately, these symptoms are also very common for a number of other ailments, including pneumonia. The most common symptom is localized chest pain, but this may not occur until the disease is well advanced. A less common but still prevalent symptom of pleural mesothelioma is weight loss. Some patients show virtually no symptoms.

Peritoneal Mesothelioma Symptoms
Peritoneal mesothelioma is a cancer of the abdominal lining. Symptoms include swelling or a mass in the abdomen, weight loss and abdominal pain. Bowel obstruction and blood clots also have been known to occur and fever is sometimes present.

Pericardial Mesothelioma Symptoms
Pericardial mesothelioma affects the lining of the heart, or pericardium. Symptoms include chest pain, cough, irregular heart beat and irregular breathing patterns. Many of these symptoms manifest during physical exertion – even minimal exertion. Pericardial mesothelioma is the rarest type of mesothelioma.

The earlier cancer is detected – mesothelioma or otherwise – the more effective treatment aimed at halting its progression will be.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Mesothelioma: Questions and Answers

Mesothelioma: Questions and Answers
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer in which malignant (cancerous) cells are found in the mesothelium, a protective sac that covers most of the body's internal organs. Most people who develop mesothelioma have worked on jobs where they inhaled asbestos particles.

1.What is the mesothelium?

The mesothelium is a membrane that covers and protects most of the internal organs of the body. It is composed of two layers of cells: One layer immediately surrounds the organ; the other forms a sac around it. The mesothelium produces a lubricating fluid that is released between these layers, allowing moving organs (such as the beating heart and the expanding and contracting lungs) to glide easily against adjacent structures.

The mesothelium has different names, depending on its location in the body. The peritoneum is the mesothelial tissue that covers most of the organs in the abdominal cavity. The pleura is the membrane that surrounds the lungs and lines the wall of the chest cavity. The pericardium covers and protects the heart. The mesothelial tissue surrounding the male internal reproductive organs is called the tunica vaginalis testis. The tunica serosa uteri covers the internal reproductive organs in women.

2.What is mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma (cancer of the mesothelium) is a disease in which cells of the mesothelium become abnormal and divide without control or order. They can invade and damage nearby tissues and organs. Cancer cells can also metastasize (spread) from their original site to other parts of the body. Most cases of mesothelioma begin in the pleura or peritoneum.

3.How common is mesothelioma?

Although reported incidence rates have increased in the past 20 years, mesothelioma is still a relatively rare cancer. About 2,000 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed in the United States each year. Mesothelioma occurs more often in men than in women and risk increases with age, but this disease can appear in either men or women at any age.

4.What are the risk factors for mesothelioma?

Working with asbestos is the major risk factor for mesothelioma. A history of asbestos exposure at work is reported in about 70 percent to 80 percent of all cases. However, mesothelioma has been reported in some individuals without any known exposure to asbestos.

Asbestos is the name of a group of minerals that occur naturally as masses of strong, flexible fibers that can be separated into thin threads and woven. Asbestos has been widely used in many industrial products, including cement, brake linings, roof shingles, flooring products, textiles, and insulation. If tiny asbestos particles float in the air, especially during the manufacturing process, they may be inhaled or swallowed, and can cause serious health problems. In addition to mesothelioma, exposure to asbestos increases the risk of lung cancer, asbestosis (a noncancerous, chronic lung ailment), and other cancers, such as those of the larynx and kidney.

Smoking does not appear to increase the risk of mesothelioma. However, the combination of smoking and asbestos exposure significantly increases a person's risk of developing cancer of the air passageways in the lung.

5.Who is at increased risk for developing mesothelioma?

Asbestos has been mined and used commercially since the late 1800s. Its use greatly increased during World War II. Since the early 1940s, millions of American workers have been exposed to asbestos dust. Initially, the risks associated with asbestos exposure were not known. However, an increased risk of developing mesothelioma was later found among shipyard workers, people who work in asbestos mines and mills, producers of asbestos products, workers in the heating and construction industries, and other tradespeople. Today, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets limits for acceptable levels of asbestos exposure in the workplace. People who work with asbestos wear personal protective equipment to lower their risk of exposure.

The risk of asbestos-related disease increases with heavier exposure to asbestos and longer exposure time. However, some individuals with only brief exposures have developed mesothelioma. On the other hand, not all workers who are heavily exposed develop asbestos-related diseases.

There is some evidence that family members and others living with asbestos workers have an increased risk of developing mesothelioma, and possibly other asbestos-related diseases. This risk may be the result of exposure to asbestos dust brought home on the clothing and hair of asbestos workers. To reduce the chance of exposing family members to asbestos fibers, asbestos workers are usually required to shower and change their clothing before leaving the workplace.

6.What are the symptoms of mesothelioma?

Symptoms of mesothelioma may not appear until 30 to 50 years after exposure to asbestos. Shortness of breath and pain in the chest due to an accumulation of fluid in the pleura are often symptoms of pleural mesothelioma. Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma include weight loss and abdominal pain and swelling due to a buildup of fluid in the abdomen. Other symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma may include bowel obstruction, blood clotting abnormalities, anemia, and fever. If the cancer has spread beyond the mesothelium to other parts of the body, symptoms may include pain, trouble swallowing, or swelling of the neck or face.

These symptoms may be caused by mesothelioma or by other, less serious conditions. It is important to see a doctor about any of these symptoms. Only a doctor can make a diagnosis.

7.How is mesothelioma diagnosed?

Diagnosing mesothelioma is often difficult, because the symptoms are similar to those of a number of other conditions. Diagnosis begins with a review of the patient's medical history, including any history of asbestos exposure. A complete physical examination may be performed, including x-rays of the chest or abdomen and lung function tests. A CT (or CAT) scan or an MRI may also be useful. A CT scan is a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body created by a computer linked to an x-ray machine. In an MRI, a powerful magnet linked to a computer is used to make detailed pictures of areas inside the body. These pictures are viewed on a monitor and can also be printed.

A biopsy is needed to confirm a diagnosis of mesothelioma. In a biopsy, a surgeon or a medical oncologist (a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating cancer) removes a sample of tissue for examination under a microscope by a pathologist. A biopsy may be done in different ways, depending on where the abnormal area is located. If the cancer is in the chest, the doctor may perform a thoracoscopy. In this procedure, the doctor makes a small cut through the chest wall and puts a thin, lighted tube called a thoracoscope into the chest between two ribs. Thoracoscopy allows the doctor to look inside the chest and obtain tissue samples. If the cancer is in the abdomen, the doctor may perform a peritoneoscopy. To obtain tissue for examination, the doctor makes a small opening in the abdomen and inserts a special instrument called a peritoneoscope into the abdominal cavity. If these procedures do not yield enough tissue, more extensive diagnostic surgery may be necessary.

If the diagnosis is mesothelioma, the doctor will want to learn the stage (or extent) of the disease. Staging involves more tests in a careful attempt to find out whether the cancer has spread and, if so, to which parts of the body. Knowing the stage of the disease helps the doctor plan treatment.

Mesothelioma is described as localized if the cancer is found only on the membrane surface where it originated. It is classified as advanced if it has spread beyond the original membrane surface to other parts of the body, such as the lymph nodes, lungs, chest wall, or abdominal organs.

8.How is mesothelioma treated?

Treatment for mesothelioma depends on the location of the cancer, the stage of the disease, and the patient's age and general health. Standard treatment options include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Sometimes, these treatments are combined.

Surgery is a common treatment for mesothelioma. The doctor may remove part of the lining of the chest or abdomen and some of the tissue around it. For cancer of the pleura (pleural mesothelioma), a lung may be removed in an operation called a pneumonectomy. Sometimes part of the diaphragm, the muscle below the lungs that helps with breathing, is also removed.

Radiation therapy, also called radiotherapy, involves the use of high-energy rays to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation therapy affects the cancer cells only in the treated area. The radiation may come from a machine (external radiation) or from putting materials that produce radiation through thin plastic tubes into the area where the cancer cells are found (internal radiation therapy).

Chemotherapy is the use of anticancer drugs to kill cancer cells throughout the body. Most drugs used to treat mesothelioma are given by injection into a vein (intravenous, or IV). Doctors are also studying the effectiveness of putting chemotherapy directly into the chest or abdomen (intracavitary chemotherapy).

To relieve symptoms and control pain, the doctor may use a needle or a thin tube to drain fluid that has built up in the chest or abdomen. The procedure for removing fluid from the chest is called thoracentesis. Removal of fluid from the abdomen is called paracentesis. Drugs may be given through a tube in the chest to prevent more fluid from accumulating. Radiation therapy and surgery may also be helpful in relieving symptoms.

9.Are new treatments for mesothelioma being studied?

Yes. Because mesothelioma is very hard to control, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) is sponsoring clinical trials (research studies with people) that are designed to find new treatments and better ways to use current treatments. Before any new treatment can be recommended for general use, doctors conduct clinical trials to find out whether the treatment is safe for patients and effective against the disease. Participation in clinical trials is an important treatment option for many patients with mesothelioma.

People interested in taking part in a clinical trial should talk with their doctor. Information about clinical trials is available from the Cancer Information Service (CIS) (see below) at 1–800–4–CANCER. Information specialists at the CIS use PDQ®, NCI's cancer information database, to identify and provide detailed information about specific ongoing clinical trials. Patients also have the option of searching for clinical trials on their own. The clinical trials page on the NCI's Web site, located at on the Internet, provides general information about clinical trials and links to PDQ.

People considering clinical trials may be interested in the NCI booklet Taking Part in Cancer Treatment Research Studies. This booklet describes how research studies are carried out and explains their possible benefits and risks. The booklet is available by calling the CIS, or from the NCI Publications Locator Web site at on the Internet.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Mesothelioma Treatment Gets Boost with New Diagnostic Test

Mesothelioma Treatment Gets Boost with New Diagnostic Test
Israeli-based MicroRNA company, Rosetta Genomics, has made a giant leap in cancer diagnosis by announcing the commercial availability of its third diagnostic test, miRview (TM) meso.

This breakthrough marks the first molecularly-based test that can accurately diagnose mesothelioma from other types of cancers found in the lung.

MicroRNAs are recently-discovered RNAs that consist of a chain of nucleotide units, each made of a nitrogenous base, a ribose sugar and a phosphate. Although similar to DNA, RNA is single-stranded, while DNA is double-stranded. MicroRNAs provide the ability to treat and diagnose a variety of human illnesses and conditions.

One of the most devastating types of asbestos-related disease is known as malignant mesothelioma, a fatal lung ailment that is directly linked to asbestos exposure. One of the most difficult tasks for physicians that treat mesothelioma is diagnosing the illness, making the test especially important to treating the disease at an early stage of development.

Diagnosis of the disease does not typically occur until the later stages of development have been reached, equating to a poor patient prognosis. Symptoms and warning signs of mesothelioma typically include shortness of breath, chest pain and weight loss, resembling symptoms felt by other less serious conditions. Most individuals who develop mesothelioma contract the disease through occupational exposure where they inhaled airborne asbestos fibers were exposed to asbestos dust through other means while on the job.

Rosetta Genomics is one of the world’s leading developers of microRNA-based diagnostic tools that offer patients and physicians an objective method of identifying many types of cancer. The company believes that using microRNAs as biomarkers in the development of diagnostic tools will enable several advantages over other methods.

“Ruling out mesothelioma from lung cancer for individuals that were exposed to asbestos can be difficult and challenging,” noted Harvey Pass, MD, Division Chief for Thoracic Surgery and Oncology at the New York University Langone Medical Center.

The hope of early cancer detection for asbestos victims is to increase survival rates and address significant needs in the medical field for the next century. Rosetta Genomics’ efforts in leading the development of microRNA-based diagnostic tools will hopefully continue to advance future patient care and management.

“I am sure that this test will become an important tool for both oncologists and pathologists in obtaining the right diagnosis in these patients,” Pass said.

For more information on mesothelioma treatment, visit the Mesothelioma Cancer Center.