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Louisville Personal Injury Blog

The role empathy plays in treating terminally ill patients

Kentucky residents with friends or family members who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma know how devastating this diagnosis can be. This is a rare form of cancer that is related to asbestos. It is aggressive, and there is no known treatment for the disease. The medical community is working hard to find ways to improve survival rates and to improve a sufferer's quality of life. Recent research suggests that physicians should also pay more attention to what they say and how they go about speaking with patients who have been diagnosed with this disease.

When patients were asked what could have been done to improve the quality of the care they received, a number of them talked about what they felt were failures on the part of the physician when it came to communicating. They felt that they were not given accurate or clear enough explanations. They felt that their physician did not seem as empathetic to the situation as they would have hoped the physician to be.

Asbestos can sicken the spouses and children of exposed workers

People in a number of different professions may have to handle asbestos as part of their job. For decades before the federal government put regulations in place to protect workers, people would have to handle this dangerous carcinogen without any workplace protections. They may also have unwittingly exposed the people they loved the most to dangerous levels of asbestos.

Whether you worked in a mine or in a factory, the chances are good that you would go home with asbestos dust on your clothing and body. The children who ran to greet you at the door with hugs and the spouse who cleaned your dusty, contaminated clothing may also have repeatedly inhaled asbestos particulate day after day.

Pembrolizumab not the hoped-for "miracle drug" for mesothelioma

Malignant pleural mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer often linked with on-the-job asbestos exposure. There is no cure, and there are few treatment options available. Only one drug, Alimta, has been approved for treatment. Louisville residents should be aware that researchers were looking for a while to a drug called pembrolizumab as a possible "miracle drug" for the cancer.

Unfortunately, the Phase III trials of pembrolizumab were underwhelming. The results, which were presented to the European Society of Medical Oncology conference, suggest that the drug is no more effective than chemotherapy. The study involved 144 relapsed mesothelioma patients, and the overall survival rate was 10.7 months for those who took pembrolizumab and 11.7 for those who underwent chemotherapy.

Study finds certain types of mesothelioma respond to chemo

A new study shows that determining the specific type of cancer cells that mesothelioma patients in Louisville and other areas have in their bodies could help improve their prognosis. The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, Yale and the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center at The University of Texas.

For the study, researchers compared the way 4,655 mesothelioma patients with three separate cancer cell types, epithelioid, sarcomatous and biphasic, responded to chemotherapy. Of those, 41% had cancer that had metastasized to other areas of their body. Prior to this study, scientists understood how aggressive each cell type was, but they did not know how each one responded to chemo. The study found that patients with epitheliod mesothelioma cells had a higher survival rate when they were treated with chemotherapy. However, the survival rates of patients with sarcomatous and biphasic cell types did not improve with chemotherapy treatments.

TTFields treatment for mesothelioma shows promise

Louisville residents with mesothelioma are usually treated by way of chemotherapy. There is another treatment, though, that the FDA has approved for use alongside chemotherapy called TTFields, or Tumor Treating Fields. The treatment makes use of electric fields that disrupt the division of mesothelioma tumor cells, possibly keeping them from spreading uncontrollably.

A report written by researchers from the West Cancer Center and Research Institute shows that TTFields treatment can help save patients' lives by making the chemotherapy more effective. A study back in April had patients with pleural mesothelioma undergo the treatment; they lived an average of six months longer than those who only underwent chemotherapy. Ninety-seven percent of patients experienced some level of disease control.

There is more than one type of mesothelioma

Asbestos exposure has the potential to cause a variety of medical problems, including mesothelioma.

While anyone can come in contact with asbestos, this is more likely among these types of workers:

  • Car part manufacturers
  • Insulation installers
  • Pipe fitters
  • Shingle manufacturers
  • Roofers
  • Tile installers
  • Construction workers
  • Wallboard installers

Johnson & Johnson to pay $37.3 million in talc lawsuit

In early September, the drug giant Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay out $37.3 million on yet another cancer case relating to the asbestos found in a talc-based baby powder. Louisville residents should know that the four plaintiffs allegedly used the baby powder and developed mesothelioma as a result: a rare, aggressive cancer with few effective treatment options.

Johnson & Johnson has been faced with talc litigation for years now. A recent quarterly filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission found that the corporation is facing 15,500 talc lawsuits in all. In virtually every case, the corporation appealed the decision, and every verdict that has been appealed has been overturned. Johnson & Johnson has pledged to appeal this most recent decision as well.

New drug may help relapsed pleural mesothelioma patients

Many pleural mesothelioma patients undergo immunotherapy, but some will relapse. Louisville residents should know that there is a drug called vorinostat that may help relapsed patients. This is according to a study from Tampa's Moffitt Cancer Center. Vorinostat is an inhibitor of the enzyme histone deacetylase and can change protein expression in cells as well as boost the immune system.

Researchers explain that many patients relapse because their body no longer reacts to immune checkpoint inhibitors, which also stimulate the immune system. The study found that vorinostat, when combined with these ICIs, provided pleural mesothelioma patients with better results. Thirty-three lung cancer patients had the combination tested on them after a successful test was done with mice.

Chemotherapy improves survival time for mesothelioma patients

Treatment options exist in Kentucky that have the potential to increase survival times for people with mesothelioma. Chemotherapy centered around the drug Alimta has become the standard course of treatment for mesothelioma patients, but a study of 910 people with the disease showed that older patients received this treatment less often than younger people with the diagnosis.

The study separated people in the groups of below age 70, age 70 to 80 and over 80. Within the under 70 age group, 66% of the patients underwent chemotherapy according to the study. Survival rates within this group reached a median time frame of 13.5 months. Among patients between age 70 and 80, only 35% of them received chemotherapy. As a result, their survival times only hit a median of 9.5 months.

Risk of peritoneal mesothelioma may remain for decades

A study by university researchers indicates that the risk for a certain type of mesothelioma never drops once the person has been exposed to asbestos. People in Louisville who have previous exposure to asbestos might be interested in the findings, which showed that pleural mesothelioma risk might level off over the course of decades, but the risk of peritoneal mesothelioma is never reduced. Even after more than 40 years following exposure, the risk continues to grow.

Peritoneal mesothelioma affects the abdominal lining, as opposed to pleural mesothelioma, which affects the lining of the lungs. In either case, the primary cause of malignant mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos. Even limited or short-term exposure is enough to significantly increase the risk that the person will develop the disease. When fibers of asbestos are swallowed or inhaled, they embed themselves in abdominal or lung linings, leading to irritation and inflammation that can cause mesothelioma even decades later.

You do not have to stand alone. Call 855-385-9532 to talk to a lawyer at Satterley & Kelley PLLC in Louisville.

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