It comes as a relief to doctors, scientists and workers of many kinds that asbestos is off the market. The natural crystalline fiber was prized for centuries as protection against fire, but the material has been correlated to mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive form of cancer in the lining around thoracic organs, for the last few decades.
There are few options for patients with advanced mesothelioma. Surgical options exist for early stages of the disease, but it is increasingly difficult to remove the entire cancer as it grows and affects the organs. A recent study showed that aggressive radiation therapy directed at the torso has increased the life expectancy of patients.
The procedure, called radical hemi-thoracic radiotherapy by oncologists studying mesothelioma, was applied to 108 cases of the cancer since 2014. These patients were more than twice as likely to survive past two years from diagnosis, which is extraordinary for cases of the disease.
"We wanted to see if it could now be used to prevent the cancer from spreading to nearby tissue, hopefully bringing improvements in survival," according to the physician leading the study involving radiotherapy.
Many instances of mesothelioma occur in shipyard workers, construction workers and other employees of heavy industry that used asbestos when it was still permitted. Another risk factor is working around or being exposed to asbestos that remains in earlier construction. People with a diagnosis of mesothelioma may consider legal representation for a possible claim against the liable organization. No one should have to deal with the disease without the proper medical and legal support.