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SMART about Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a terrible disease, because it leaves you second-guessing. If you had not picked that one job, if you had not worked on that equipment, if you had not used those types of parts, if you had gone to see your doctor sooner. So many ifs. And once it is diagnosed, most victims have little time to contemplate all of the might-have-beens, often with only months to live after a diagnosis.

A story from Canada reports a new treatment that may provide a ray of hope to those who receive the terrifying news that they have contracted mesothelioma. The new treatment was developed by two doctors in Toronto, and is called "Surgery for Mesothelioma After Radiation Therapy," or SMART.

The survival rates of patients who received the new treatment "more than doubled, from 32 percent to 72 percent." The news story describes one patient who first suspected something was wrong when he felt a shortness of breath during his soccer games. He was "really scared" by the diagnosis, but is very happy to be celebrating four years cancer free after his SMART treatment.

He had been a mechanic and had been exposed to asbestos sometime during his working career. The SMART treatment he received is very different from the standard cancer treatment use on most mesothelioma patients.

Instead of using surgery to remove the tumor and then subjecting the patient to radiation, the new method involves the use of heavy doses of radiation prior to surgery. The doctor's goal is to ensure all of the cancer cells are dead before they remove the lung. This apparently prevents viable cancer cells from being spread to healthy tissue.

An important element of the treatment is quick action, with the doctors urging patents to avoid delay and seek a referral early on after an initial diagnosis.

If you worked in the industries where asbestos exposure was endemic and you develop any symptoms of mesothelioma, immediately consult with a doctor who is experienced with asbestos-related diseases. With mesothelioma, every second counts.

Source:, "Revolutionary Toronto cancer treatment gives asbestos victims new life," Marco Chown Oved, February 24, 2014

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