Australian Researchers Discover How Malignant Mesothelioma Tumors React. Researchers have discovered an unusual way in which asbestos-related tumors grow, which may help future treatment of asbestos-related diseases. Scientists at Adelaide’s Flinders University in Australia found that malignant mesothelioma tumors transform into blood vessels, which promotes their growth.
Associate Professor Sonja Klebe described the tumors’ behavior as “unusual,” according to ABC.Net.AU. “Instead of waiting for the outside of the tissue to grow blood vessels in, the tumor cells themselves branch out, growing blood vessels that reach out into surrounding tissues, tapping into the native vasculature,” she added. Current tumor treatments target blood vessels that develop into the cancer. “So I think a future approach would involve treating both of these types of vessels to more or less starve the tumor of blood supply,” Associate Professor Klebe said, ABC.Net.AU reported.
According to the news outlet, some 12 Australians die weekly due to asbestos-related cancer. In fact, Australia has one of the highest rates of asbestos-related cancer worldwide. “But I think we are closer to finding treatments that will prolong life, with less impacts on quality of life,” Associate Professor Klebe told ABC.Net.AU.
Asbestos has been banned in Australia since 2003; however, asbestos is still found across the country. This may be due, in part, to asbestos-laced products being illegally imported and finding their way into Australian buildings. For example, according to ABC.Net.AU, a woman from Sydney was diagnosed with a serious asbestos-related disease a decade after she was potentially exposed to asbestos in a backyard workshop. “I have never personally renovated, and I’ve never worked with asbestos, so it was a big shock,” she said. “I’ve had a lot of surgery,” she noted.
At the 2016 Asbestos Awareness and Management International Conference in Adelaide, Australia, the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency indicated that banning asbestos overseas was critical. “If we can solve the problem of asbestos production and use in Asia, then we don’t have to have the focus so much on border controls,” chief executive Peter Tighe said. ABC.Net.AU noted that asbestos use is extensive in countries such as China and Indonesia.
What is Mesothelioma?
Asbestos is a fibrous material that had been used in a variety of building materials in the United States through the 1970s. Environmental regulations in the U.S. ultimately banned asbestos use in most industrial and residential applications. Despite this, asbestos is still found in older buildings.
When it becomes airborne, asbestos fibers may be easily ingested or inhaled. Once the asbestos fibers are inhaled, the fibers may seriously affect one’s health. For example, exposed individuals may suffer from breathing problems that become more difficult to treat over time. Also, exposure to prolonged or elevated levels of asbestos may cause any of a variety of lung cancers, including mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a cancer of the pleura in the lungs that has typically affected thousands of people who previously worked for years in industrial settings where asbestos was frequently used.
The effects of mesothelioma are not reversible and the disease’s symptoms may take between 10 and 40 years following exposure to develop. Risks become more significant the longer the exposure to asbestos. Of note, just a few months of exposure may significantly raise one’s risk for mesothelioma.
Some initial signs of the possible adverse effects associated with asbestos exposure include shortness of breath, feeling tired, or a suffering from a dry cough. As the disease progresses, the individual’s coughs may become persistent and may worsen. Chest pain and frequent lung infections are also typical symptoms of possible lung cancers such as mesothelioma associated with asbestos exposure.
Steel and ship builder work is often associated with asbestos-related disease; however, emerging information has tied illnesses to home do-it-yourself projects, which have been the culprit in some newer mesothelioma cases. A prior The Wall Street Journal report indicated that a review of filings in Philadelphia court involving asbestos lawsuits revealed that 49 percent of the mesothelioma claims filed between 2006 and 2010 were brought by plaintiffs who alleged exposure from do-it-yourself construction projects or what are known as “shade-tree” mechanic work, as well as industrial exposures. This is a significant rise from the three percent seen between 1991 and 2000, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Even if a person has not been directly exposed to asbestos, a related disease may be acquired by just being near an exposed person. For example, family members of the many workers exposed to asbestos have, through the years, developed many of the same symptoms and face similar risks caused by asbestos exposure.
Asbestos-Related Lawsuits In the United States
In one previous asbestos injury lawsuit, the plaintiff allegedly suffered from chest pain, had to travel nationwide to undergo major surgery, underwent chemotherapy, managed debilitating pain, and was involved in a lawsuit that was not finalized at the time of his death, according to The Wall Street Journal. His attorneys were suing various firms they believed exposed the deceased plaintiff-who was not a steel worker or ship builder-to asbestos at some point during his life.
This deceased man, a physician, believed he inhaled the fatal asbestos fibers decades prior to his death while working in a greenhouse and while working on some home-improvement projects. The Wall Street Journal noted that approximately 29 companies-paint and flooring manufacturers and boiler companies-were held responsible for the man’s illness. The man and his family provided family photos of rusty paint cans, cement bags, and insulation that led back to firms that have since filed for bankruptcy, but did create bankruptcy trusts. The man’s family discussed that the man, a physician, and his brother, who died of mesothelioma in 1999, as having had worked in a greenhouse. The brothers cleaned the facilities boiler flue, which was manufactured by Kewanee. Kewanee boilers allegedly contained asbestos. The plaintiff’s information added to the expanding number of defendants, including CertainTeed Corp., a company that made siding the man’s father used on a farmhouse that the plaintiff scraped and painted after the paint had flaked. Since his death, settlement checks continue to come in and offers of settlement continue.
In another case brought against numerous asbestos manufacturers in 2009. Most of the defendants settled, but Ford motor Company did not. The trial began in September of 2011, at which time, extensive testimony was provided by two noted experts in asbestos exposure, asbestos-related diseases, and mesothelioma. A jury heard about a man’s exposure to asbestos over his lifetime starting in 1950 when he worked as assistant at a local garage for a few months where he was exposed to asbestos on a regular basis. His exposure was due to the asbestos brakes installed in Ford Motor Company’s automobiles. He also worked at a power plant from 1960 to 1994 and testimony was given about his exposure to asbestos there, as well. Asbestos experts testified that the lifetime exposure contributed to his mesothelioma diagnosis and the jury ruled in the man’ favor.