The Goldberg Law Firm Co., LPA

The Goldberg Law Firm Co., LPA

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Research Prevention

The most important progress this year is in meso research and treatment. Mesothelin, a protein expressed by mesothelioma, is an inspiring example. In early 2007, the first ever biomarker for meso, MesoMark – a blood test based on mesothelin – received humanitarian FDA approval. It is now being used to measure response to chemotherapy, and to monitor for recurrence in successfully treated patients.

Research hospitals in Europe have successfully tested a new anticancer drug, “Vinflunine” (pronounced VIN-floo-neen). The October 20, 2007 issue of Journal of Clinical Oncology featured the news that Vinflunine has been shown to improve response and survival rates in patients diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma.

Vinflunine was recently tested in Phase II clinical trials at hospital research centers in England and France. Dr. Talbot, from the Churchill Hospital in Oxford, and medical colleagues at seven European hospital centers, assessed the response rates of 67 patients who had not received prior chemotherapy or radiotherapy to determine the effectiveness of first-line Vinflunine treatment.

Doctors concluded that Vinflunine, when administered approximately every 21 days in high doses, improved patients’ response rates by 13.8 percent, and demonstrated such positive results that the drug therapy warrants further evaluation. In 2004, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first drug for this condition, “Alimta,” which, when used in combination with cisplatin, has helped patients extend their lives by several months, according to the FDA.

Prevention & Expectations

What can be done to prevent the disease? Since the 1970s, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have regulated the asbestos industry in the U.S. In the past, asbestos was used as a fire retardant and an insulator. Other products are now used in its place. The controversy involving exposure to different forms of asbestos continues.

There are two major types of asbestos: chrysotile and amphibole. It is thought that exposure to the amphibole form is more likely to cause mesothelioma. However, chrysotile has been used more frequently, hence many mesotheliomas are caused by chrysotile.

Removal is taking place in schools and other public buildings throughout the United States. The hope is that these measures will greatly reduce the occurrence of this cancer.

Substitutes for asbestos in construction: Many companies that produced asbestos-cement products that were reinforced with asbestos fibres have developed products incorporating organic fibers. One such product was known as Eternit and another, Everite, now use Nutec fibers that consist of organic fibres, portland cement and silica. What are the long-term effects of the disease? A mesothelioma is a highly aggressive tumor that is generally deadly. Current treatment of malignant mesothelioma is designed to make the person with cancer comfortable. Although long-term survival cannot usually be expected, the case of famed paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould is a noted example.

What are the risks to others? Mesothelioma is not contagious and cannot be passed from one person to another. The exposure to the asbestos that caused the cancer occurred many years to several decades before the disease appeared. People who live with asbestos workers have a higher risk of getting this cancer.