Deaths From Asbestos Related Diseases Expected to Rise In Asia In The Next Decade

I recently read an article in the New York Times concerning the rise in asbestos related deaths in Asian countries.  It is very disconcerting to see the lack of laws in other countries concerning the use of this deadly product.  I am shocked that countries such as Canada, Russia, Asia and India continue to import and export asbestos.  In my work with clients as a mesothelioma attorney, I have seen the damage this deadly carcinogen can cause.

Asian countries now account for 64% of the world’s asbestos consumption.  This is a significant increase from the estimated 14% of asbestos use between 1920-1970.  This rise in asbestos use is largely due to unregulated import and usage laws.  Data from a study conducted by the World Health Organization has recorded that Asian patients surprisingly only make up 13% of asbestos related deaths worldwide.  However, researchers have predicted that there will be huge increase in asbestos related deaths in Asian countries over the next 20 years.  This is tragic and could be prevented.

Fiberous Asbestos
Fiberous Asbestos

About Asbestos and Mesothelioma

Asbestos has been identified as one of the most dangerous occupational cancer-causing agents.  Asbestos is a naturally-occurring mineral.  The fibers from this mineral are very strong and are flexible enough to be woven.  Asbestos is woven into various materials or incorporated into products and used for fireproofing and insulation. It can also be mixed with other materials such as cement, resins and plastics and used as a filler material to add strength, thermal protection and electrical resistance.  Because of its deadly properties, asbestos is no longer used in the United States. But sadly its use is on the rise in Asia.

In Asia, asbestos-containing products are being used in power plants, roofing and cement materials.  The asbestos contaminated roofing panels that are currently being used in Asia are imported from India.  These roofing panels are made very cheaply in Indian factories from the asbestos India imports from Russia and Canada.  Exposure to the deadly asbestos fibers occurs during the manufacture and use of these products.

The World Health Organization Asbestos Study

Dr. Ken Takahashi, acting director of the World Health Organization, and his team put together a study of asbestos use in 47 Asian countries.  This study was published in “Respirology, a Journal of the Asian Pacific Society of Respirology.”  This study will serve as an important resource for Asian-Pacific health authorities.  The study reported that China, India and other large Asian countries do not keep accurate records on asbestos related diseases, so their current asbestos related death counts are most likely falsely low.  Dr. Takahashi is concerned “the sharp increase in asbestos use in Asia will see a surge of mortality and morbidity from asbestos related diseases in this region in the decades ahead.”  Dr. Takahashi went on to warn that Asian governments and health officials must equip themselves with the resources to manage an “asbestos tsunami.”

No Safe Level

There is no known safe level of asbestos exposure.  Even in small doses, asbestos can cause mesothelioma.  Mesothelioma is a cancer of the lining of the lung caused by exposure to asbestos.  There is presently no cure for this disease. Mesothelioma has a long latency period and symptoms may not appear for 20 to 50 years after the initial exposure to asbestos.  Because of the length of time it takes for most people to show symptoms of this devastating disease it is often difficult for people to recall where they were exposed to asbestos.  The companies that manufactured these products were aware of its deadly potential.  If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you should be aware of your legal rights. 

Combination Therapy Improves Survival Rates for Mesothelioma Patients

Through my work as a mesothelioma lawyer, many of my clients and their loved ones have told me how frightening it is to receive a mesothelioma diagnosis when doctors tell you the expected survival rate is often less than one year.  I am continually on the look-out for new medical treatments and studies that show improvements in life expectancy for mesothelioma patients to share with my clients. I recently read about a new research study from the School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania that shows improved survival rates for patients with pleural mesothelioma using a new combination of photodynamic therapy, a light-based treatment, and a lung-sparing surgery.  The results of this study were recently published in the Annals of Thoracic Surgery, June 2011.

Study Offers New Hope for Mesothelioma Patients

The current study was conducted at the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. It involved a lung sparing surgery in combination with a light-based cancer treatment called photodynamic therapy or PDT.  There were two goals of the study: 1. To determine if using a light-based cancer treatment, PDT, in combination with a less invasive surgical procedure could be used instead of a more extensive surgery called an extrapleural pneumectomy that involves the removal of the entire lung; and 2. To see if the PDT treatment would show an increase in the survival rate of patients.

The light-based therapy used in this study penetrates only a short distance into the lung allowing the lung to be saved.  The intent behind this therapy is to eliminate the microscopic cancer and jump start the patient’s own immune system to help fight the cancer.  Twenty-eight patients suffering from pleural mesothelioma participated in this new study.  Of the 28 patients involved, 24 patients were in Stages III or IV pleural mesothelioma.  Most of the patients that took part in this study were not eligible for surgical therapy because of their advance stage of mesothelioma and age.

Fourteen patients in the group were treated by modified extrapleural pneumectomy (MEPP) and 14 were treated by radical pleurectomy (RP), which involves the removal of the pleura to allow the lungs to expand and fill the pleural cavity. All were treated with intraoperative PDT, the light-based treatment.  On average, the 14 patients who received the modified surgical treatment survived 8 months.  The remaining 14 patients who only had the pleura of the lung removed were still alive at their 2 year check up.

Dr. Joseph Friedberg, MD, co-director of the Pennsylvania Mesothelioma and Pleural Program and the thoracic surgeon who performed the operations remarked “…We were completely caught off guard when the analysis revealed a significantly longer survival rate for the patients who retained both lungs.” Dr. Friedberg, MD went on to say “This study has limitations as many mesothelioma studies do, but these results are very encouraging.”

About Pleural Mesothelioma

Pleural mesothelioma is the most common form of mesothelioma and makes up roughly 70% of mesothelioma cases.  Pleural mesothelioma originates in the membrane surrounding the lung and chest.  The malignant cells grow and eventually create a thick coating around the interior of the chest cavity.  The invasive nature of these cancerous cells makes it impossible to remove with surgery alone.

Drugs Used to Treat Renal Cancer Show Promise in the Treatment of Mesothelioma

I am always interested to hear about new medical advancements in the treatment of mesothelioma. New treatments that lead to the initiation of clinical trials are even more encouraging. This is the case with a new drug treatment for mesothelioma. Researchers will be starting clinic trials to evaluate a preliminary finding that a drug used to treat renal cancer may also be effective in treating mesothelioma.

Promising Treatment With Drugs That Block Proteins That Regulate Cell Growth

In Australia, researchers have recently discovered a new promising treatment for mesothelioma.  They have found that temsirolimus, a drug typically used to in the treatment of renal cell cancer, may also be effective in the treatment of mesothelioma.
Temsirolimus works by blocking the action of a protein (known as mammalian target of rapamycin-mTor) that regulates cell growth.  Temsirolimusis has been shown to slow cancerous tumor growth in patients suffering from kidney cancer.  This renal cancer drug may also slow the growth of mesothelioma tumor cells.  Research showed that  temsirolimus powerfully blocked mTOR-mediated signals and stopped the mesothelioma cells from continuing to grow.  This research suggests that mTOR inhibitors like Temsirolimus may be a promising treatment for mesothelioma patients.

Professor Walter Berger, PhD of the Institute of Cancer Research at the Medical University of Vienna explained:
“In our preclinical study published in the Journal of Thoracic Oncology, we were able to demonstrate the inhibitor of the major oncongene mTOR is active against human mesothelioma especially after development of chemotherapy resistance both in vitro and in vivo,…These results suggest the initiation of clinical trials involving mTOR inhibitors as a novel anti-mesothelioma strategy.”

Benefits of Clinical Trials for Mesothelioma Patients

Patients need to talk with their doctors to determine whether they are candidate for any type of clinical trials. I have seen throughout my work as a mesothelioma lawyer that there are many benefits to mesothelioma patients enrolling in a clinical trial: patients receive excellent care; many patients feel better and their quality of life is enhanced; and in some cases the disease process stabilizes or even goes into remission. Clinical trials offer the best hope of eventually finding a cure for this devastating disease.

As a mesothelioma lawyer, a number of my clients have shared with me their experience in having participated in clinical trials where the safety and effectiveness of new drugs and medical treatments are evaluated.  Many of my clients who have been involved in clinical trials are happy they could contribute in some way to medical advances in the treatment of mesothelioma.

My firm and I have seen first-hand how advances in the treatment of mesothelioma have greatly enhanced the quality of life for mesothelioma patients. We remain committed to supporting research to help find a cure and better treatment for mesothelioma.


Environmental Exposures to Asbestos Continue To Be A Serious Health Risk

Environmental exposure to asbestos is a serious health risk and the situation in Libby, Montana shows how serious and long lasting such health risks can be.  Even decades after the residents of this town were exposed to asbestos from the mining of asbestos-contaminated vermiculite, many remain at risk of mesothelioma.

EPA Indicates Asbestos Risk Continues

Recently, the Environmental Protection Agency announced that the risk of asbestos exposure still exists in many areas of Libby Montana, where huge quantities of vermiculite, contaminated with asbestos, were mined.  In the last several decades, health officials have reported more than 400 people have been killed due to asbestos related diseases such as mesothelioma.  It is estimated 1,500 people who have lived and worked in the Libby area are currently being treated for mesothelioma and other diseases linked to exposure to asbestos.

Libby Montana was home to the W.R. Grace vermiculite mine from 1963-1990.  Vermiculite which was commonly used as a form of insulation was laden with deadly asbestos.  Not only were the people in Libby exposed to asbestos dust created through the mining operations, but this deadly product was shipped around the country for decades.  Both environmental and occupational exposures to asbestos have played a key role in the recent increase in asbestos related deaths in Montana.

Asbestos Risks In Montana

The EPA is working hard to reduce these risks by forging a major clean up in the town of Libby.  More than a decade after the EPA began its cleanup a draft toxicity study released in May 2011, has found the surrounding air in the town to be safe.  To date, the federal cleanup has cost more than $370 million and federal contractors have removed hazardous soil and insulation from over 1,400 homes and businesses in the last decade.  But there is still much more work to be done before this town can be considered safe again.  Environmental and occupational exposure to asbestos still remains a major threat to the health of the residents and workers of Libby.

If you would like more information about various occupations at risk because of asbestos exposure, as well as known jobsites throughout the state of Montana where asbestos was used, visit where we have information specifically related to Montana.

Bystander Exposure to Asbestos Also a Serious Risk

Environmental exposure to asbestos is still a risk to many people today, including those indirectly exposed such as family members who simply washed clothing covered with asbestos dust.  A very unfortunate situation occurred to Faye T. who was exposed as a bystander to the asbestos dust on her husband’s work clothes.  To better understand this risk, watch the short interview with her on her experience.

Are You At Risk?

You should be aware if you have been exposed to asbestos in your home, work or surroundings.  Please visit our “Who is at risk?” section to find out more. To learn more about mesothelioma, we also have developed a very extensive “Mesothelioma Knowledge Center,” to provide information including Mesothelioma Treatment Options, Exposures in the US Navy, as well as your Legal Rights.

As Mesothelioma Lawyers, we have represented thousands of victims of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases and can help you.  Don’t hesitate to call us to discuss how we can help.  

“Honor Flight Network” Makes Visiting WWII Memorial In D.C. A Reality For Many WWII Veterans

As a mesothelioma lawyer, I have represented hundreds of World War II veterans who were exposed to asbestos on Navy ships, as well as those who worked tirelessly to build these ships. It is sad to think that those WWII veterans who contracted mesothelioma will never have the opportunity to visit the DC Memorial built in their honor. So I was especially happy to recently read about the “Honor Flight Network” that helps those WWII veterans who are still with us make a visit to their memorial a reality. The most recent group to benefit was from Wisconsin.

This spring, the Honor Flight Network gave a group of World War II Veterans from Wisconsin the opportunity at last to see the WWII memorial. This volunteer organization was started in 2005 by Earl Morse, a physical assistant and retired Air Force Captain.  In 2004, when Earl was working for a small clinic in Springfield, Ohio, all of his veteran patients were a buzz about the completion of the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.  Sadly, due to age, lack of funds, and physical limitations, he knew many of the veterans would never get the chance to visit their beloved memorial.  Earl decided there had to be a way to get these World War II veterans to Washington D.C..

A Volunteer Program Is Born

In early 2005, Earl spoke to members at an aero club outlining a volunteer program to fly WWII veterans to their memorial.  There were only two stipulations of his program, 1. The veterans pay nothing 2. Pilots personally escort veterans around D.C. for the day.  Numerous volunteers approached Earl after his speech asking if they could help.  From this speech, the Honor Flight Network was born.

By the end of the program’s first year, 137 veterans had been flown to see the World War II memorial.  In 2006 commercial airlines began to be used due to the growing number of veterans on the waiting list.  By the end of that year, 891 World War II veterans across the United States made the memorable trip to the memorial in D.C.

The Honor Flight Network gives priority to World War II veterans and veterans who are terminally ill. Based on recent statistics World War II veterans die at the rate of 1,000 per day.

Veterans Lost to Asbestos-Related Deaths

Sadly, many World War II Navy veterans were  exposed to  asbestos while serving their country aboard Navy ships.  Literally tons of asbestos insulating products were used on these ships during World War II.  Exposure to this asbestos occurred during the operation, maintenance, and repair of these ships and led to many cases of mesothelioma.

Asbestos exposure is the cause of mesothelioma, a deadly cancer that does not develop until 20-40 or even 50 years after exposure to  asbestos.  World War II Navy Veterans are among the highest group at risk of developing this deadly disease.

Learn More About Navy Veterans Asbestos Exposure

The mesothelioma lawyers at Galiher DeRobertis & Waxman have had the honor of representing hundred of veterans including those who served in World War II.

New Advances In Early Detection of Mesothelioma

Key to Effective Treatment

Earlier this month I met with a client in the later stages of mesothelioma.  At this point, treatment options are often unable to relieve the pain and extraordinary discomfort associated with this tumor.  My visit was a harsh reminder of the importance of early diagnosis of this very aggressive asbestos-related tumor that develops in the lining of the lungs.  While there is no cure for this devastating disease, patients who receive treatment for mesothelioma in the early stages benefit the most. Unfortunately, because of the difficulty in diagnosing this rare tumor, many mesothelioma tumors are not discovered until the disease is in its advanced stages.  But a recent medical discovery has changed this.

Early Detection Tests Identify Stage 1 and 2 Mesotheliomas

A key medical discovery has made the early detection of mesothelioma possible. Researchers at New York University’s Langone Medical Center recently developed a test that can identify the proteins secreted by a mesothelioma tumor so that doctors can detect the disease in its earliest stages.  The researchers were able to detect 15 of 19 cases of stage 1 or 2 mesothelioma using this test.  According to Dr. Harvey Pass, the Director of Thoracic Surgery and Thoracic Oncology at NYU, the only patients who seem to benefit from mesothelioma therapy are those whose tumor is in stage 1 or 2.  But only 10-15% of mesothelioma tumors are diagnosed in this initial stage when treatment can provide the greatest benefits.

Dr. Pass noted that finding a tumor earlier may reduce the extent of required treatment:

“Moreover, when found early, the magnitude of the operation necessary to reduce the burden of disease may be less, making the patient better able to cope if the disease recurs and the patient needs more aggressive therapy.”

National Cancer Institute Sponsor of Study

The National Cancer Institute was the sponsor of this study through its “Early Detection Research Network Biomarkers Discovery Lab.”  The new test uses very sophisticated technology that allows scientist to find and measure even the smallest amounts of proteins secreted by the mesothelioma tumors. Last April researchers presented this study at the American Association of Cancer Research 102nd Annual Meeting.  Tests are on-going to further refine and validate the testing and the results.

What This Means for Mesothelioma Victims

For mesothelioma patient this means an improved level of treatment that will lead to an enhanced quality of life.  Until we can find a cure for this disease, discoveries such as this will help mesothelioma patients better cope with this cancer.

I continually tell my mesothelioma clients that research in this area continues daily through clinical trial and laboratory research.   New advances, like this early diagnostic test, are evidence of the on-going efforts on the scientific and medical community to combat this deadly disease.

My firm and I follow the scientific and medical research regarding mesothelioma. For more news and information on Mesothelioma cancer and asbestos please visit the Mesothelioma Knowledge Center.