September 12, 2017
Mesothelioma Awareness Day, which takes place on Tuesday, September 26, 2017, aims to educate and inform society about the deadly cancer caused by asbestos exposure, and how funding is a critical component in mesothelioma research. Mesothelioma Awareness Day was established in 2004 by the Meso Foundation and eventually became National Mesothelioma Awareness Day as proclaimed by both the House and U.S. Senate.
Mesothelioma is a cancer of the thin membrane that lines several organs and cavities within the body. The only known cause of malignant mesothelioma is asbestos exposure, therefore, mesothelioma is sometimes called a signal tumor: an indication you were exposed to asbestos. The primary locations for this tumor are in the lining surrounding the lungs (pleural mesothelioma) or the abdomen (peritoneal mesothelioma).
Diagnosing and treating mesothelioma has proven to be very difficult and symptoms typically do not become apparent until on average 20 to 50 years after exposure. Since symptoms of mesothelioma tend to mimic other illnesses, it is not uncommon for mesothelioma to be misdiagnosed. More often than not, by the time mesothelioma is detected, the cancer is advanced, and there is little chance that treatment will be effective. Early detection of this fatal disease is one of the most important steps, and funding is heavily needed by scientists and researchers to discover the most effective way to detect this cancer before it is too late to treat.
By raising awareness, the Meso Foundation is not only contributing to research for early detection, but for treatment development as well. There is no cure for mesothelioma, but there are many treatments available such as surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and gene therapy. Patients who are not responding to traditional treatment methods can choose to participate in clinical trials. In clinical trials, doctors, researchers, and drug companies test various treatments that are new and novel for the patients’ disease. Funding is also critical for clinical trials so scientists and researchers can continually develop the most advanced and effective treatments.
While mesothelioma is in fact a rare cancer, it still affects close to 3,000 people per year just in the United States alone. Asbestos can still be found in many products and is still being used in manufacturing today so the threat of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses is still a major concern for society. For more information about Mesothelioma Awareness Day and what you can do to help, visit the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation website.