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The year in mesothelioma

With the end of 2013 and the beginning of the New Year, there are always many lists discussing aspects of the previous years. Mesothelioma is no different, and one review of the top 10 events associated with mesothelioma highlights a few interesting items.

There have been improvements in some types of surgery mesothelioma patients sometimes undergo, with the use of robotics being expanded for extrapleural pneumonectomies (EPP). The use of robotic surgery should make the procedure safer and allow for quicker recoveries of patients. 

Sadly, on a less positive note, the National Mesothelioma Virtual Bank had its federal funding entirely eliminated. The bank contains more than 1,300 bio samples for researchers and the cut is crippling.

One of the more surprising facts was that in spite of the massive reduction in the new use of asbestos-containing materials in our homes, industrial uses and consumer products, the incidence of cases of mesothelioma has remained virtually unchanged, with about 3,000 new cases last year.

This is where it has been for the last 20 years. While the asbestos industry and their insurance companies would like you to believe that asbestos is no longer a threat, and that few people are likely to ever develop the disease today, others suggest we could see an increase in the number of victims of asbestos-related illnesses, like mesothelioma.

Because asbestos never just "goes away," it is likely that much of the 803,000 metric tons of the material that was used in 1973 is still out there in the environment. It could be in the walls of your home, in paint and textured coatings, in roof shingle, floor coverings and ceiling tiles.

And because you only need a single, unlucky exposure, people in California may still be dying of mesothelioma 50 years after the asbestos was used in the 1970s. 

Source:, "Top 10 Mesothelioma News Stories of 2013," Tim Povtak, December 30, 2013

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