1$ Million for Mesathelioma Cure

Mesothelioma Foundation Awards New $1 Million for Research to Cure Asbestos Cancer

SANTA BARBARA, Calif., March 15 /PRNewswire/ -- The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation announced today it has awarded an additional $1 million in research funding aimed at curing the asbestos-related cancer, mesothelioma. Meso is an aggressive, painful cancer of the linings of the lungs, abdomen, heart or testicles. After a very long latency, ten to fifty years, it can afflict anyone who has been exposed to asbestos, even in small amounts. For decades, it was mostly ignored in terms of medical interest or research funding. As a result, until recently there were no treatments that were better than doing nothing at all.

However, in the past few years, meso science has begun to progress rapidly, and there is now new hope for meso patients and those at risk. Researchers are discovering the particular genes and proteins involved in the disease. This is enabling development of powerful biomarkers, which can aid in detecting and monitoring the cancer. It also offers promise for development of targeted therapies, aimed at controlling the pathways that turn a normal cell into meso.

Since 1999, much of this progress has been supported by the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation. Says Executive Director Chris Hahn, "Thanks to generous donors, this is now the third year in a row in which we have been able to support critically-needed meso research at the million-dollars-per- year level. This consistent support is enabling brilliant investigators around the world to invest their careers in meso, and to pursue the detailed scientific studies needed to develop effective treatments. As a result, we are seeing the whole field make great strides forward."

This progress is evident in the recently awarded grants. Thirty-four research teams from prestigious universities around the world submitted proposed projects. The Foundation's scientific advisors carefully reviewed and scored them, and grants of $100,000 each were awarded to the top ten. These ten, which include using meso specific antibody/antigen combinations to deliver therapy specifically to the tumor, targeting cell signaling pathways that have been discovered to be frequently implicated in meso, sensitizing meso tumor cells to existing chemotherapy drugs, and utilizing nanospheres to deliver chemotherapy directly to the cancer site, represent the most advanced approaches in cancer therapy, and are very likely to yield increased understanding of, and better treatments for, the meso tumor.

from pr-inside.com

Mesothelioma: Qusetions & Answers

  1. Mesothelioma: Questions and Answers

    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 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.

    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.

    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 the United 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 are the risk factors for 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 is at increased risk for 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. Today, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets limits for acceptable levels of asbestos exposure in the workplace. People who work with asbestos 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.

    What are the symptoms of mesothelioma?

    Symptoms of mesothelioma may not appear until 30 to 50 years after exposure to asbestos. Shortness of breath and pain in the chest due to an accumulation of fluid in the pleura are often symptoms of pleural mesothelioma. Symptoms of peritoneal 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.

    How is mesothelioma diagnosed?

    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.

    How is mesothelioma treated?

    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.

    Are 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 the NCI’s Cancer.gov Web site, located at http://www.cancer.gov/clinical_trials on the Internet, 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 the NCI Publications Locator Web site at http://www.cancer.gov/publications on the Internet.

What is Mesothelioma

What mesothelioma is
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer. It is a cancer of mesothelial cells. These cells cover the outer surface of most of our internal body organs, forming a lining that is sometimes called the mesothelium. So this is where this type of cancer gets its name.

Mesothelioma cancer can develop in the tissues covering the


The pleura
The tissues lining (or covering) the lungs are called the pleura. There are two pleura. These can be called pleural membranes. The gap between them is called the pleural space. The pleura are fibrous sheets. They help to protect the lungs. They produce a lubricating fluid that fills the gap between the two pleura. This helps the lungs to move smoothly in the chest when they are inflating and deflating as we breathe.

Mesothelioma is most often diagnosed in the pleura. This is known as pleural mesothelioma. Because it is so close, pleural mesothelioma can also affect the sheet of tissue covering the heart - the pericardium. Doctors call the pericardium the lining, although it is on the outside of the heart. It protects the heart and allows it to move smoothly within the sac that surrounds it. So it does much the same job for the heart as the pleura do for the lungs.

The peritoneum
The tissue lining the abdomen is called the peritoneum. It helps to protect the contents of the abdomen. It also produces a lubricating fluid. This helps the organs to move smoothly inside the abdomen as we move around.

Mesothelioma of the tissues lining the abdominal cavity is known as peritoneal mesothelioma. It is much less common than pleural mesothelioma.

It is unusual for mesothelioma to spread to other parts of the body. But if it does, it does not usually cause troublesome symptoms.

Benign mesothelioma
There is a form of non cancerous (benign) mesothelioma that can develop in the lining of the lungs, or in the lining of the reproductive organs. It can occur in either men or women. These non cancerous tumours are very rare and we don't cover them in this section of CancerHelp UK.