Community Q&A

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Publication Date: 12/03/2012
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At, we provide our readers with information about mesothelioma, ranging from news stories about current research to posts about nutrition, diet and other aspects of cancer therapies.

While we offer our readers plenty of content, our readers also give us lots of feedback, and we’d like to address some of those concerns.

This post is part of a new Q&A series where we will answer some of the questions submitted by our readers.

1. What current research is being done?

-Betty Quinnett Boatwright McGaffey, via Facebook

Hi Betty!

In the 2011 fiscal year, the National Cancer Institute awarded $9,967,944 in grants for mesothelioma research. These funds went to mesothelioma-specific research projects, as well as projects that benefit asbestos cancer along with several other diseases.

These grants funded 23 projects. Most of these projects are still currently underway, including:

  • A trial to explore immunotherapy for malignant mesothelioma
  • A trial investigating mesothelin as a biomarker and therapeutic target
  • A trial considering targeted radiotherapy for malignant mesothelioma
  • A trial to validate prognostic and diagnostic mesothelioma tests
  • Technology research for the North American Mesothelioma Consortium

Some of the world’s leading researchers are working on these projects. Dr. Harvey Pass, Dr. Raphael Bueno and Dr. Raffit Hasaan are just a few of the researchers who received these NCI-funded grants.

Other organizations are also contributing to research. The Mesothelioma Applied Research Program funded five mesothelioma projects last year. Their projects included a trial to identify genetic mutations in patients with pleural cancer and a study to validate novel biomarkers in peritoneal cancer treatment.

Our news section regularly features articles on the latest research. Feel free to subscribe to stay up-to-date on groundbreaking findings!

2. I know when, where, and how I have been exposed. No symptoms so far. Is there anything I should do preemptive as far as medically or legally?

– Dave Hamilton, via Facebook

Great question, Dave, and one that every person with a history of asbestos exposure should ask!

Not everyone who is exposed to asbestos will become ill. However, most people who do develop asbestos-related diseases do not become ill until several decades after their initial exposure. It’s profoundly important not to live in fear. However, a few important preemptive steps can give you peace of mind:

  • Consider routine asbestos-related diseases screenings, even if you feel fine. These screenings can catch asbestos cancer and other diseases in their earliest stages, before they even develop symptoms. Doctors perform several tests (including a lung volume analysis and imaging tests) to monitor your condition over time, and they can refer you to a treatment specialist at the first sign of disease.
  • Lead an active and an extremely healthy lifestyle, and eat a diet known to reduce cancer risk, such as plant-based diets. Numerous cancer survivors promote diets heavy in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Mesothelioma cancer survivor Paul Kraus switched to a vegetarian diet, among other lifestyle changes, when he was diagnosed with mesothelioma 14 years ago. Paul and other mesothelioma survivors advocate physical activity and mental health therapies such as meditation or prayer.
  • Watch for the symptoms of an asbestos-related disease. It may sound simple, but most patients do not acknowledge or report their symptoms until several crucial months have passed. If you develop any of the symptoms, including chest pain or difficulty breathing, you’ll want to discuss them with a doctor as soon as possible. An asbestos-related disease specialist will be able to give the appropriate medical advice for your scenario.

Without a confirmed diagnosis, there are limited legal steps you can take beyond documenting your history of asbestos exposure. Because you know the specifics of your exposure, it may be helpful to make an in-depth record of these facts while the details are still fresh in your head. In the event that you become ill in the future and decide to pursue your legal options, this information could make the process much smoother.

Thank you both for your questions. As the questions keep rolling in, we’ll keep answering them, so if you have a question that you would like us to answer, don’t hesitate to let us know. We’ll look into your unique situation and find answers just for you. Please submit your questions here in the comments, on our Facebook page, or, if you’d like to be anonymous, by emailing us at Let us know if there’s anything else we can answer for you!