Asbestos has not been entirely banned in the U.S., so it can be found in many buildings across Louisville. Exposure to the mineral over a long period of time can result in mesothelioma, a cancer developing in the mesothelial cells and their DNA. Researchers continue to learn more about which asbestos fibers cause the cancer, how and after what level of exposure. They are also studying the potential role that the SV40 virus has in mesothelioma.
Equally important is the research being done on mesothelioma treatments. The cancer remains difficult to treat, but it appears that some combination of surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy provides the most effective results. Chemotherapy drugs on their own can shrink or slow the growth of mesothelioma, but their effect is limited.
Newer drugs like Sunitinib are currently being tested for their ability to target specific changes in the cells that cause cancer. Other drugs target the protein mesothelin found in mesothelioma cells. One benefit is that the side effects are less severe than those of chemo drugs.
Researchers are also studying photodynamic therapy, where a light-activated drug is injected into the veins, travels to the cancer cells and kills them when exposed to a special red light, which is emitted from a tube placed into the chest during surgery. Other therapies under trial include immunotherapy and gene therapy.
Workers are often exposed to asbestos because employers fail to provide a safe workplace. If they develop asbestos-related illnesses and believe that there is a clear case of negligence on the other side, they may be able to file a personal injury claim and be compensated for their past and future medical expenses, among other financial losses. This is where a lawyer might come in, have investigators gather proof and proceed to negotiations for a fair settlement.