New treatments may significantly extend the lives of mesothelioma victims. Our experienced mesothelioma attorneys are thrilled to hear of new developments for mesothelioma victims. Treatment advances are critical because victims diagnosed with the disease often only live for an average of 6 to 18 months after diagnosis.
The recent death of a Charleston fireman is a perfect example of how tragic and sudden mesothelioma can be. After learning he had advanced stage mesothelioma, the fireman only had three short months to leave his final mark on the world. A dedicated firefighter for 34 years, he spent his final days spreading awareness to local fire personnel.
His key message: get proper testing often if you suspect asbestos, and contribute to mesothelioma research in any way you can. The fireman would likely be delighted by the forthcoming research from the Perelmen School of Medicine. Charleston firefighters designated a special truck, painted in white and blue, to raise awareness for mesothelioma in the firefighter’s honor.
Firefighters are an important subset of mesothelioma victims because they can be exposed to asbestos unknowingly in their line of work. A fire is the type of activity that can cause materials to release asbestos fibers into the air. When responding to an emergency fire call, firefighters might not have the time to find out if the building is an asbestos laden hazard zone.
New treatments might give unsuspecting firefighters a chance at a longer life. Although new research does not yet present a cure, it does extend the lifespan of those diagnosed. Traditional treatment often involves the removal of a lung through invasive surgery. Patients who undergo this dramatic procedure are left with a weakened immune system.
As you can imagine, when faced with certain death or the option to give up a lung, lung removal begins to look promising. But the quality of life after losing a lung is marginal at best. Even after lung removal, recurrence rates of mesothelioma are high. Furthermore, removal procedures are risky. Patients face a 5-10 percent death rate with this procedure.
The new treatment approach is a breath of fresh air, almost literally.
Alternative treatment allows patients to keep both lungs. Cancerous cells
are eradicated through a photodynamic therapy process.
The innovative process uses electric light energy to kill cancerous cells. Damaged cells are singled out by injection of a photo-sensitizing drug. Properties of the drug cause it to linger on cancerous or damaged cells for longer than healthy cells.
After injection, doctors administer treatment with a laser that emits at specific wavelengths. Waves are drawn to the cells that still have traces of the drug. The drug and the energy then interact to eradicate and destroy cancerous cells.
Photodynamic therapy test results have been astounding. Patients treated with the therapy lived an average of 13 months longer than the usual expectancy for those diagnosed with mesothelioma. The total life expectancy with the photodynamic therapy is a little shorter than with lung removal, but the risk of serious complication is much lower.
Photodynamic treatment also places less stress on the immune system. Thus, patients who undergo the therapy may maintain a higher quality of living than if they had lost a lung. Medical professionals and researchers are still heatedly debating the pros and cons of both treatment options.
Neither treatment option is perfect, but both methods represent progress towards a better outlook for mesothelioma victims. If you or a loved one suffers from asbestos induced lung cancer it is important that you contact an experienced mesothelioma attorney as soon as possible.