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ASBESTOS NEWS DAILY - ASBESTOS FACTS AND STATISTICS
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Asbestos Facts and Statistics


 
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MESOTHELIOMA ASBESTOS QUICK FACTS:

  • During the 20th century, some 30 million tons of asbestos were used in industrial sites, homes, schools, shipyards and commercial buildings in the U.S.
  • The first use of asbestos dates back to 2500 B.C., when it was used as a wick material for oil lamps and also in pottery making.
  • In the mid 1920s, an English doctor made the first diagnosis of asbestosis, and this was followed by a study which showed that 25% of English asbestos workers showed signs of a related lung disease.
  • Through 2003, more than 700,000 People have filed claims against more than 6,000 Asbestos companies. These same companies knew of the dangers for many years before ever warning the public of those risks.
  • A wide array of workers were exposed to Asbestos including shipyard workers, factory workers, pipe fitters, sheet metal workers, plumbers, laborers, machinists, mechanics, powerhouse workers, and electricians.
  • It is estimated that 27.5 million Americans were exposed to asbestos between 1940 and 1979.
  • An estimated 1.3 million employees in construction and general industry face significant asbestos exposure on the job. Heaviest exposures occur in the construction industry, particularly during the removal of asbestos during renovation or demolition. Employees are also likely to be exposed during the manufacture of asbestos Products (such as textiles, friction Products, insulation, and other building materials) and during automotive brake and clutch repair work.
  • Asbestos fibers are strong, durable, and resist heat, acids, and friction. They are virtually indestructible. Because of these useful physical properties, asbestos fibers were often combined with other materials for use in thousands of industrial, maritime, automotive, scientific and building Products.
  • Asbestos is classified into many different types, which include; chrysotile (white asbestos), crocidolite (blue asbestos), amosite (brown asbestos), tremolite, anthopyllite, and actinolite.
  • The first known asbestos lawsuit was in 1929 inNew Jersey.
  • Many asbestos-containing Products remain in buildings, ships, industrial facilities and other environments where the fibers can become airborne.
  • Asbestos has been used in various Products since the 1900s, but the peak usage years were between 1950 and 1975.
  • During the 1960s the first definite link between mesothelioma and asbestos was made. Asbestos is now known to be the most common cause of the disease.
  • A wide array of workers were exposed to Asbestos including shipyard workers, factory workers, pipe fitters, sheet metal workers, plumbers, laborers, machinists, mechanics, powerhouse workers, and electricians.
  • It is estimated that there will be about 250,000 cases of Mesothelioma before 2020.
  • Mesothelioma has a latency period of 20 to 50 years after the first exposure to asbestos.
  • There are over 3,000 known Products that may contain Asbestos.

Source: http://www.mesotheliomaasbestoshelpcenter.com

 
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Asbestos Health Effects

General Information

Significant exposure to any type of asbestos will increase the risk of lung cancer,mesothelioma and nonmalignant lung and pleural disorders, including asbestosis, pleural plaques, pleural thickening, and pleural effusions. This conclusion is based on observations of these diseases in groups of workers with cumulative exposures ranging from about 5 to 1,200 fiber-year/mL. Such exposures would result from 40 years of occupational exposure to air concentrations of 0.125 to 30 fiber/mL. See Detecting Asbestos, for typical levels of concentration. The conclusion is supported by results from animal and mechanistic studies.

Asbestos fibers lodged in the lungs

Asbestos fibers lodged in the lungs. Asbestos-related
conditions affect the lungs and surrounding tissues

Diseases from asbestos exposure take a long time to develop. Most cases of lung cancer or asbestosis in asbestos workers occur 15 or more years after initial exposure to asbestos. Tobacco smokers who have been exposed to asbestos have a "far greater-than-additive" risk for lung cancer than do nonsmokers who have been exposed, meaning the risk is greater than the individual risks from asbestos and smoking added together. The time between diagnosis of mesothelioma and the time of initial occupational exposure to asbestos commonly has been 30 years or more. Cases of mesotheliomas have been reported after household exposure of family members of asbestos workers and in individuals without occupational exposure who live close to asbestos mines.

Asbestos Facts

  • When asbestos fibers are inhaled, most fibers are expelled, but some can become lodged in the lungs and remain there throughout life. Fibers can accumulate and cause scarring and inflammation. Enough scarring and inflammation can affect breathing, leading to disease.
  • The term “naturally occurring asbestos” refers to the mineral as a natural component of soils or rocks as opposed to asbestos in commercial products, mining or processing operations. Naturally occurring asbestos can be released from rocks or soils by routine human activities, such as construction, or natural weathering processes. If naturally occurring asbestos is not disturbed and fibers are not released into the air, then it is not a health risk.
  • People are more likely to experience asbestos-related disorders when they are exposed to high concentrations of asbestos, are exposed for longer periods of time, and/or are exposed more often.
  • Inhaling longer, more durable asbestos fibers (such as tremolite and other amphiboles) contributes to the severity of asbestos-related disorders.
  • Exposure to asbestos can increase the likelihood of lung cancer, mesothelioma, and non-malignant lung conditions such as asbestosis (restricted use of the lungs due to retained asbestos fibers) and changes in the pleura (lining of the chest cavity, outside the lung).
  • Changes in pleura such as thickening, plaques, calcification, and fluid around the lungs (pleural effusion) may be early signs of asbestos exposure. These changes can affect breathing more than previously thought. Pleural effusion can be an early warning sign for mesothelioma (cancer of the lining of the lungs).
  • Most cases of asbestosis or lung cancer in workers occurred 15 years or more after the person was first exposed to asbestos.
  • Most cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed 30 years or more after the first exposure to asbestos.
  • Asbestos-related disease has been diagnosed in asbestos workers, family members, and residents who live close to asbestos mines or processing plants.
  • Health effects from asbestos exposure may continue to progress even after exposure is stopped.
  • Smoking or cigarette smoke, together with exposure to asbestos, greatly increases the likelihood of lung cancer. See Cigarette Smoking, Asbestos Exposure, and your Health.

Health Risks of Asbestos Exposure

Chronic exposure to asbestos may increase the risk of lung cancer, mesothelioma, and nonmalignant lung and pleural disorders. Evidence in humans comes from epidemiologic studies as well as numerous studies of workers exposed to asbestos in a variety of occupational settings. Tremolite asbestos exposure has been associated with an increased incidence of disease in vermiculite miners and millers fromLibby,Montana. This evidence is supported by reports of increased incidences of nonmalignant respiratory diseases, lung cancer, and mesothelioma in villages in various regions of the world that have traditionally used tremolite-asbestos whitewashes in homes or have high surface deposits of tremolite asbestos and by results from animal studies.

Risk Factors

Various factors determine how exposure to asbestos affects an individual:

  • Exposure concentration - what was the concentration of asbestos fibers?
  • Exposure duration - how long did the exposure time period last?
  • Exposure frequency - how often during that time period was the person exposed?
  • Size, shape and chemical makeup of asbestos fibers:

Long and thin fibers are expected to reach the lower airways and alveolar regions of the lung, to be retained in the lung longer, and to be more toxic than short and wide fibers or particles. Wide particles are expected to be deposited in the upper respiratory tract and not to reach the lung and pleura, the sites of asbestos-induced toxicity. Short, thin fibers, however, may also play a role in asbestos pathogenesis. Fibers of amphiboleasbestos such as tremolite asbestos, actinolite asbestos, and crocidolite asbestos are retained longer in the lower respiratory tract than chrysotile fibers of similar dimension.

  • Individual risk factors, such as a person's history of tobacco use (smoking) and other pre-existing lung disease, etc.

Note, cigarette smoke and asbestos together significantly increase your chances of getting lung cancer. Therefore, if you have been exposed to asbestos you should stop smoking. This may be the most important action that you can take to improve your health and decrease your risk of cancer.

Conditions Associated with Asbestos

Asbestosis

Asbestosis is a serious, progressive, long-term disease of the lungs. Asbestosis is not a cancer. Inhaling asbestos fibers that irritate and inflame lung tissues, causing the lung tissues to scar, causes asbestosis. The scarring makes it hard to breathe and difficult for oxygen and carbon dioxide pass through the lungs. Asbestosis generally progresses slowly. The latency period for the onset of asbestosis is typically 10-20 years after the initial exposure. The disease can vary from asymptomatic (no symptoms) to disabling and potentially fatal.

Microscopic view of lung tissue with asbestosis

Microscopic view of lung tissue with asbestosis.

Signs and Symptoms of asbestosis can include:

  • Shortness of breath is the primary symptom
  • A persistent and productive cough (a cough that expels mucus)
  • Chest tightness
  • Chest pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • A dry, crackling sound in the lungs while inhaling.

Pleural Abnormalities

Persons with significant exposure to asbestos are at risk for developing various types of pleural (lining of the chest cavity, outside the lungs) abnormalities. These abnormalities include pleural plaques, pleural thickening, pleural calcification, and pleural mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a rare cancer, which may affect the lining of the chest cavity, outside the lung (pleura) or the abdominal contents (peritoneum). Most mesotheliomas are caused by exposure to asbestos.

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is a malignant tumor that invades and obstructs the lung's air passages. Cigarette smoking greatly increases the likelihood of a person developing lung cancer as the result of asbestos exposure. The most common symptoms of lung cancer are cough, wheezing, unexplained weight loss, coughing up blood, and labored breathing. Other symptoms of lung cancer include shortness of breath, persistent chest pain, hoarseness, and anemia. People who develop these symptoms do not necessarily have lung cancer, but they should consult a physician for advice.

Scanning Electron Micrograph of Lung Cancer Cells

Scanning Electron Micrograph of Lung Cancer Cells.

The Incidence of Nonrespiratory Cancers And Exposure to Asbestos

Summary

Research has shown a clear link between exposure to asbestos and respiratory cancers (cancer of the lungs and mesothelioma) in humans. However, the link between exposure to asbestos and other types of cancers is less clear.

Some epidemiologic studies suggest an association between gastrointestinal and colorectal cancers and asbestos exposure. However, very few studies suggest an elevated risk for cancers of the kidney, brain, larynx, and bladder and asbestos exposure.

Epidemiologic studies do not clearly support a consistent relationship between nonrespiratory cancers and asbestos exposure.

Introduction

Medical research has shown that people who are exposed to asbestos (through breathing in the asbestos fibers) have an increased risk of developing respiratory cancers such as lung cancer and mesothelioma (a rare form of lung cancer).

Some research suggests that exposure to asbestos also increases the risk of nonrespiratory cancers. However, despite a few studies reporting these associations, most studies do not show a consistent relationship between asbestos exposure and nonrespiratory cancers.

Following is an overview of studies on asbestos exposure and nonrespiratory cancers.

Gastrointestinal and Colorectal Cancers

Studies of asbestos workers suggest that asbestos exposure might be associated with gastrointestinal (esophagus and stomach) and colorectal (colon and rectum) cancers. However, the evidence is unclear.

These studies showed small increases in the number of deaths from gastrointestinal and colorectal cancers. For example, among 17,800 insulation workers, 99 people died from these cancers, even though the rate in the general population is expected to be 59.4 deaths. Among 2,500 asbestos textile workers, 26 people died from these cancers, but 17.1 deaths were expected. Several other studies have shown similar patterns.

However, other mortality studies of asbestos workers found no significantly increased risk for gastrointestinal or colorectal cancers. Other reviewers found no causal relationship between workers' exposure to asbestos and gastrointestinal cancer.

Some evidence shows that short-term (acute) oral exposure to asbestos might bring on precursor lesions of colon cancer, and that long-term (chronic) oral exposure might increase the incidence of gastrointestinal tumors.

Most epidemiologic studies to see if cancer incidence is higher than expected in places with high levels of asbestos in drinking water detected increases in cancer deaths or incidence rates at one or more tissue sites (mostly in the gastrointestinal tract).

Some of these increases were statistically significant. However, the magnitudes of increases in cancer incidence tended to be rather small and might be related to other risk factors such as smoking. Also, these studies were conducted on worker populations, with generally higher exposures; still, only small and inconsistent elevations have been reported.

There is relatively little consistency in the observed increases across studies.

Kidney, Brain, Bladder, Laryngeal, and Other Cancers

Results of studies of cancers at other sites are also inconclusive. One reason is that relatively few studies have tried to evaluate the relation between asbestos exposure and nonrespiratory cancers.

Some studies have noted excess deaths from, or reported cases, of certain cancers such as the kidneys (two studies), brain (one study), and bladder (one study). Several epidemiologic studies have reported an increased risk of laryngeal cancer in workers exposed to asbestos.

In contrast, other epidemiologic studies have not found a strong link between increased risk of cancers and asbestos exposure (except for cancers of the lungs and surrounding areas). For example, one analysis concluded that misdiagnosis or chance may be the best explanation for asbestos-related cancer at any other site than the lungs or surrounding areas.

Another combined analysis of 55 studies did not find a significant association between occupational exposure to asbestos and laryngeal cancer and concluded that the evidence of a causal relationship was weak.

Another combined study of asbestos-exposed workers suggested a possible association between asbestos and laryngeal cancer. This same study found no clear association of asbestos exposure and urinary, reproductive, lymphatic, or hematopoietic cancers.

Conclusions

Studies show a strong link between respiratory cancers (cancers of the lung and mesothelioma) and exposure to asbestos in humans.

However, epidemiologic studies do not clearly or consistently show a strong link between cancers at other sites and exposure to asbestos in humans.

  • Some epidemiologic studies suggest an association between gastrointestinal and colorectal cancers and asbestos exposure.
  • Very few studies suggest elevated rates of cancers of the kidney, brain, larynx, and bladder and asbestos exposure.
  • Although some evidence suggests that exposure to asbestos also increases the risk of nonrespiratory cancers, the evidence remains weak, compared to that of lung cancer and mesothelioma.

A final combined analysis of studies of asbestos workers providing data on laryngeal disease concluded that there was no evidence of a positive association between asbestos exposure and laryngeal cancer.

Living with Asbestos-Related Illness

Topics covered in the guide include characteristics of asbestos, asbestos-related illness, the respiratory system, treatment methods, preventive care, traveling tips, pulmonary rehabilitation, and relaxation and breathing techniques.

ATSDR's Internet address is http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov

http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/asbestos/asbestos/health_effects/

 
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Asbestos: The Facts

 

1907 First case of asbestos-related disease discussed in the medical literature

1927 The name asbestosis applied to lung scarring caused by asbestos.

1929 Workers begin suing Johns Manville for damages caused by asbestos.

1930 First epidemiology study showing asbestos causes asbestosis and set forth methods to prevent this disease indicating it is asbestos not the job that kills.

1955 Dr. Richard Doll publishes study-linking asbestos to lung cancer.

1960 Dr. J.C. Wagner publishes 33 cases of mesothelioma showing not only workers contracted the disease but also family members and residents near the mining area.

1964 Irving Selikoff describes the incidence of asbestos related disease among end product users of asbestos in his study of North American Insulation workers.

1970 Occupational Safety and Health Act passed resulting in the first workplace standard for asbestos in 1972.

1971 EPA lists asbestos as a hazardous air pollutant.

1976 The International Agency for Research on Cancer list asbestos as a human carcinogen and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health calls for a ban on asbestos in US workplaces.

1989 EPA promulgates Asbestos Ban and Phase – Out Rule which was overruled by the 5th US Federal Circuit Court of Appeals.

1998 International Programme for Chemical Safety determines there is no safe exposure for chrysotile asbestos.

2001 The collapse of theWorldTradeCenter towers led to the release of hundreds of tons of asbestos from the towers.

2006 The World Health Organization and the International Labor Organization in a policy paper and a resolution adopted respectively agreed that: all forms of asbestos are classified as human carcinogens, no threshold for “safe” exposure exists, and the elimination of asbestos use is essential to stop the global epidemic of asbestos-related disease.

2007 The Senate unanimously passed “Ban Asbestos in America Act” however the ban language was changed from banning asbestos containing products to only banning asbestos containing materials which would also exempt materials containing less than one percent asbestos.

2007“Bruce Vento Ban Asbestos and Prevent Mesothelioma Act of 2007” introduced by U.S. House of Representative Betty McCollum.

2008U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Environment and Hazardous Materials introduced H.R. 6903, the “Bruce Vento Ban Asbestos and Prevent Mesothelioma Act of 2008”, banning Asbestos Containing Products (ACP).

http://www.banasbestos.us/thefacts/default.aspx

 
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Mesothelioma: Facts and Resources

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.

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.

What are the symptoms of mesothelioma?

Symptoms of pleural (lung) mesothelioma are typically shortness of breath and pain in the chest due to an accumulation of fluid in the pleura. Symptoms of peritoneal (abdominal) 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.

Types of Mesothelioma

  • Abdominal mesothelioma
  • Chrysotile Peritoneal mesothelioma
  • Malignant mesothelioma
  • Pericardial mesothelioma
  • Peritoneal mesothelioma
  • Pleural mesothelioma
  • Epithelial malignant mesothelioma
  • Cystic mesothelioma
     

What causes 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.

Who should be concerned about 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. Almost all people who develop mesothelioma have worked on jobs where they inhaled asbestos particles. In fact, a history of asbestos exposure at work is reported in about 70-80% of all cases.

Today, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets limits for acceptable levels of asbestos exposure in the workplace.  Mesothelioma is still a relatively rare cancer, but reported incidence rates have increased in the past 20 years.

People who work with asbestos are required to 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.

Mesothelioma also occurs more often in men than in women, and the risk increases with age. Very often it takes 30 to 50 years after exposure to asbestos, for the symptoms to appear. Yet, mesothelioma may appear in either men or women at any age.

How do I know if I have mesothelioma?

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.

Typical Methods of Diagnosis to Which Your Doctor May Refer

  • Radiological Findings (X-rays)
    • Chest x-ray may show pleural effusions or pleural thickening on the affected side. (lung damage)
    • Computed tomography (CT) may also show pleural effusions or pleural thickening with irregular nodularity.
  • Gross pathology (physical examination)
    • Early features of malignant mesothelioma show small, round, gray, flat macules or nodules on the pleura, most prominent on the parietal surface and largely found at the inferior sulcus.
    • In the intermediate stage, the small foci of tumor will coalesce to form large nodules which thicken and fuse the parietal and visceral pleurae and eventually encase the lung.
    • Advanced disease metastasizes to lymph nodes and distant sites via bloodstream. Local invasion of the lung, mediastinal structures, diaphragm, and peritoneum is also common.
  • Histology (blood tests)
    Blood tests (hematoxylin and eosin staining) detect three patterns of mesotheliomas that show up in the blood
    • The most common pattern is epitheloid. The cells have large nuclei with a prominent nucleoli and eosinophilic cytoplasm. The well-differentiated forms exhibit a papillary or tubular growth pattern within a luminal space which is often indistinguishable from adenocarcinoma. They can also take the appearance of other epithelial subtypes: giant cell, small cell, clear cell, signet cell, glandular, microcystic, myxoid, and adenoid cystic. As a consequence, the epitheloid type of mesothelioma often mimics carcinoma, particularly adenocarcinoma.
    • The sarcomatoid type is the least common and most aggressive tumor with a survival time less than 6 months from the time of diagnosis. Its features show spindle-shaped cells overlapping one another in a storiform pattern, resembling fibrosarcomas and leiomyosarcomas.
    • Mixed-type shows features of both, epithelioid and sarcomatoid.
      o Histology alone cannot differentiate malignant mesothelioma from other pleural cancers and further diagnostic tools must be used. Immunohistochemistry and/or electron microscopy are mainstays of definitive diagnosis.
  • Immunohistochemistry (examination of the immune system)
    Immunohistochemistry can usually differentiate between malignant mesothelioma and metastatic adenocarcinoma.
  • Electron Microscopy (Microscopic examination of tissue samples / biopsy)
  • Cytogenetics (cellular biology examination of tissue samples / biopsy)
     

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.

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 theUnited 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.

What is the treatment for mesothelioma?

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.

Early diagnosis of mesothelioma allows a greater number of treatment options including chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, experimental therapies and drugs, complementary medicine and therapies, and lifestyle modifications. If you have experienced asbestos exposure for long periods of time but do not have any signs of mesothelioma yet, it is a good idea to see your doctor since the latency period for signs of disease after asbestos exposure is 20-40 years.

Are there any 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 theNCI's Web site, provides general information about clinical trials and links to PDQ. People considering clinical trials may be interested in the NCI booklet Taking Part in Clinical Trials: What Cancer Patients Need To Know. 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 theNCI Publications Locator Web site on the Internet.

Other Resources and Links

·        Asbestos information

 

·        National Cancer Institute Information -

    • Cancer Information Service Toll-free: 1–800–4–CANCER (1–800–422–6237)
    • TTY (for deaf and hard of hearing callers): 1–800–332–8615
    • NCI Online Internet To reach NCI's Web site. LiveHelp.  Cancer Information Specialists offer online assistance through the LiveHelp link on the NCI's Web site.

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