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Could Your Job Have Given You Lung Cancer?

Aug 17, 2007
Industrialization crept in fast and furious in the 1700s and after that for about 100 years the mineral asbestos was considered to be a miracle which could be used everywhere effectively and relatively cheaply. It became a must-have in all buildings as insulation and came to be used in all products that could be manufactured. But the late 1800s saw asbestos causing lung cancer in many who were exposed to it. But like the fate of most unpalatable reports this one too was ignored till such time as the condition started getting out of control and finally around 1931 the British government took note of the fact that people exposed to asbestos were at a great risk for lung cancer and this was followed by the United States in the early 1970s. Unfortunately this action was too late for those who had already been exposed and now faced the consequences of the disease.

Exposure to asbestos has resulted in the development of pleural plaques, asbestosis, lung scarring, lung cancer and a particularly nasty strain called mesothelioma. This strain is exclusive to asbestos and deals with the lining around the lungs called the pleura. It can strike a person even after a short exposure 10 or 20 years ago. If the person is a smoker, then the risk goes up 10 fold or more as compared to a non smoker who has maybe a risk 5 times greater than someone who is not exposed to asbestos.

Diagnosis of lung cancers due to exposure to asbestos is carried out through a combination of processes like the medical history, x-rays, MRIs, CAT tissue samples, scans and biopsies. Those with regular exposure must get themselves checked regularly to catch the problem in time as the incubation period is as long as 50 years. Early diagnosis plays its part here too as with all other cancers. Patients diagnosed with mesothelioma have a bad statistic report going as the survival rate is far from satisfactory. Some are even given as little as 8 to 10 weeks, but those who use a multi treatment approach have shown a 40% survival rate for 5 years at least which is as good as that of other cancers. The most responsive treatment for mesothelioma has come to light as being a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy but if the detection happens at a late stage, surgery may not be an option that is open anymore.

But the world of medical research does not sleep and there are advancements being made in the field of chemotherapy even as we speak. February of 2004 saw the first medicine approved by the FDA called Alimta produced by Eli Lilly. It was seen in the clinical trials that Alimta in combination with another drug called Cisplatin did a lot to better the life expectancy of the afflicted people. For those who know that death is imminent a hope that their life can be extended by even a few months works wonders and allows them the freedom to hope for a cure.
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