According to new data from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), between 20 and 30 percent of people with malignant mesothelioma never receive any cancer treatment. Mesothelioma is a rare cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation can be effective in helping people live longer with the disease. The NCI study found that nearly one-third of pleural mesothelioma patients go without treatment that could add years to their lives.
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer caused by breathing in asbestos mineral fibers. Because asbestos is extremely durable, it was used in many building and commercial applications before its link to cancer was fully-understood. Most asbestos exposure happens in factories, construction sites, and during renovation of older buildings.
There are four types of mesothelioma, named for the part of the body where they originate. Patients with both pleural and non-pleural mesothelioma were included in the NCI study. Pleural mesothelioma accounts for 80 – 90 percent of all asbestos-related cancer cases. It is found in the chest wall and the lungs, often causing chest pain and shortness of breath.
Mesothelioma treatment involves a combination of surgery, drug-therapy, chemotherapy, and/or radiation. There is no cure for malignant mesothelioma, but treatment can significantly improve patients’ prognosis.
Pleural mesothelioma symptoms usually appear decades after the initial exposure to asbestos. Most pleural patients are older males, but recently, there has been an uptick in the number of females diagnosed with the deadly disease. Patients over 70 with pleural mesothelioma are less likely to get treatment than younger people with other forms of the cancer. Only 27.1 percent of patients with pleural mesothelioma received surgery, according to the NCI report.
Even though several forms of emerging mesothelioma treatments are currently available, only around five percent of pleural patients participate in trials. Several immunotherapy drugs are currently awaiting U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for the treatment of mesothelioma.
Immunotherapy treatments designed to boost the body’s immune system to fight cancer are an option for patients who have not been successful with chemotherapy or who are not candidates for surgery. Photodynamic therapy, which uses special light to kill cancer cells, is another promising treatment on the horizon. Gene therapy, which repairs genetic defects that cause cancer cells, can potentially be used to prevent many forms of cancer.
The NCI study does not address the reasons why certain populations are less likely to receive life-extending mesothelioma treatment. However, it does highlight the need for equal access to all forms of treatment for every patient living with asbestos-related cancer. Until a cure is found, patients can improve symptoms, feel better, and live longer than ever before with treatment.
Patients who are exposed to the dangerous substance asbestos usually do not show signs of mesothelioma for years or even decades. That does not mean that it is too late to hold negligent manufacturers or employers responsible or to pursue financial compensation for your injuries. The Delaware mesothelioma lawyers at the law firm of Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. have extensive experience handling tough asbestos cancer cases. We have the knowledge and skill to help you or your loved one find justice.
Call 302-656-5445 or contact us online to schedule a consultation with a Delaware mesothelioma lawyer today. Our offices are located in Wilmington and Georgetown to serve clients throughout the state of Delaware.