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New Precision Therapy Drugs May Help Mesothelioma Patients

New Precision Therapy Drugs May Help Mesothelioma Patients

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento asbestosis and mesothelioma lawyer. Cancer research is reaching new heights as more drugs are becoming available. Until recently, treatment for mesothelioma has relied on surgery, radiation, chemo, and combinations of such therapies. New target precision therapies are increasingly being added to help treat mesothelioma patients. Let’s look at some of these new advances in mesothelioma therapy.

What Is Precision Therapy?

Although the dangers of exposure to asbestos fibers has now been well-known for many years, the several different diseases that may result may not be. In addition to malignant mesothelioma — a cancer that appears in the mesothelial tissues lining the lungs, peritoneum, pericardium, and chest cavity — other cancers of the lungs, kidneys, and gastrointestinal tract have also been connected to asbestos. Asbestos fiber inhalation is also the direct cause of asbestosis, a condition in which the lung tissues become increasingly scarred, seriously reducing lung function.

Malignant mesothelioma is a very devastating diagnosis — most people diagnosed with this cancer die within 12 months of receiving their diagnosis. This is not to say victims of this disease should be without hope. For example, famous scientist Stephen Jay Gould lived for more than 20 years after his mesothelioma diagnosis, eventually succumbing to an unrelated condition. While certainly grim, malignant mesothelioma diagnoses are still relatively rare.

Non-mesothelioma cancers resulting from asbestos exposure are much more variable in survival rates. However, these cancers share a common trait with mesotheliomas — a long period of “latency” between exposure and disease diagnosis. These types of cancers have a somewhat shorter latency period than mesothelioma, in the range of 15 to 30 years.

hazmatAnyone who watched an older building being torn down or remodeled in recent years will have become familiar with the sight of workers performing asbestos testing and remediation. Buildings constructed in the middle part of the 20th century very commonly used asbestos in a variety of building materials because of its fireproofing performance. It was also used as fireproofing material in a number of other industries, such as shipbuilding, beginning early in the 20th Century, but becoming increasingly prevalent from the 1940s forward.

Malignant mesothelioma is a relatively rare form of cancer that appears most commonly in the pleural lining between the lungs and the chest wall. Only in recent decades has the strong connection between most pleural mesotheliomas and workplace exposure to asbestos become well-established and recognized.  Although cancer in the pleural lining had occasionally been observed and described by doctors for hundreds of years, it wasn’t until the early 1900s that doctors began to recognize these as “primary” cancers — that is, cancers originating actually in the lungs, rather than spreading as “secondary” tumors from cancers beginning in other locations.

Early studies linking mesothelioma to lung cancers occurred in Germany in the 1940s, in Ireland and Canada in the 1950s (observing respiratory cancer in asbestos miners), and in Australia in the 1960s. Although there were earlier suggestions of linkage between asbestos and mesothelioma, strong scientific evidence of this wasn’t presented until about 1960.

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