September 26, 2016, was Mesothelioma Awareness Day. This day dedicated to raising awareness for mesothelioma, was established in 2004 by the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (MARF). MARF is a nonprofit organization that believes that there is a cure for mesothelioma and through education, fundraising and awareness, a cure can be achieved.
Mesothelioma is a deadly cancer caused by asbestos exposure. Airborne asbestos fibers can be small, sharp, and nearly invisible to the naked eye, but can have devastating effects if inhaled. Asbestos fibers can become embedded in the lining of various organs. In the case of mesothelioma, asbestos fibers make their way to the pleura, (the mesothelial lining of the lungs and the chest) and the abdomen. There are a few different types of mesothelioma, but the most common two are pleural mesothelioma and peritoneal mesothelioma. Pleural mesothelioma is more commonly diagnosed than peritoneal and affects the lining of the lung and chest cavity (the pleura). Peritoneal mesothelioma is cancer that affects the abdominal lining, and is sometimes referred to as abdominal mesothelioma. While both of these cancers are rare, they are also incurable due to the nature of the cancer. The asbestos fibers slice in to sensitive tissue inside the body and because asbestos is very strong, the body cannot easily break it down, so the fibers end up generating scar tissue causing damage to the infected area.
Those diagnosed with mesothelioma are not without hope as clinical trials and scientific research are making strides every day. The researchers and scientists at the Baylor College of Medicine Mesothelioma Treatment Center at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center recently announced a new clinical trial that combines immunotherapy and surgery for the treatment of mesothelioma. This treatment has been marked as groundbreakings since this is the first time that these two treatments have been combined. Another trial at the Baylor College of Medicine Mesothelioma Treatment Center at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center recently moved into its second phase, passing the initial trial that determines safety. The Phase II trial takes a closer look at a new investigational drug called anetumab ravtansine and will determine the effectiveness of this treatment.
Through clinical trials, patients have access to the most innovative and newly designed treatments and technologies. Doctors are able to test their theories on actual subjects, which provide a more accurate result. Clinical trials and new treatments offer so much hope to those diagnosed with this terrible illness. Mesothelioma Awareness Day strives to educate people about the dangers of asbestos and the exposure risks. For over 12 years MARF has raised nearly a million dollars that contribute to the research and the clinical trials. MARF also has been able to have National Mesothelioma Awareness Day recognized by the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives.
Mesothelioma Applied ©Research Foundation, [Link]
Jillian Duff, “Phase II Trial for New Mesothelioma Treatment Opens to Patients,” Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance (September 23, 2016). [Link]
Dana Benson, “Mesothelioma Treatment Center at Baylor St. Luke’s Launches Clinical Trial for Cancer Patients,” Baylor College of Medicine (September 6, 2016). [Link]