The long latency period of asbestos-related disease often means that asbestosis symptoms may only make themselves known some 40 to 50 years after first exposure, and thus, as a result of age-related or additional debilitating factors, only 20-30% of patients are suitable candidates for surgical procedures.

Many victims only live for a matter of 6 months to possibly two years, once diagnosis has been confirmed, making the process of claiming mesothelioma compensation a time critical factor indeed for sufferer, family members and asbestosis lawyer, alike . Any treatment or palliative care method that can help manage, or even slow the decline is obviously crucial in these circumstances.

Today’s increased asbestos awareness means it is very well known that a particularly aggressive malignant form of cancer, mesothelioma, is only caused by exposure to asbestos. Unfortunately, chemotherapy and radiation therapy have met with limited success, but many new treatments have been tried, some of which, have proved more successful than others, and many are part of ongoing clinical trials.

The use of substances within the body’s immune system to inactivate chemicals produced by the tumour to promote its growth. While most of these agents have been promising in laboratory studies, they have generally been ineffective in clinical trials when applied to patients with malignant mesothelioma.

Heat therapy
The pleural cavity is heated to improve the effects of chemotherapy agents, before being injected at temperatures as high as 109 F, as tumour cells are more susceptible to the toxic effects of the drugs at higher temperatures. In an early study, patients with malignant mesothelioma showed good tolerance when injected into the pleural space, but although proved safe, it has not demonstrated improved survival.

Gene therapy
Various forms of gene therapy are being investigated for use in the treatment of malignant mesothelioma, predicted to be a key future approach to treatment. Suicide gene therapy involves genetic manipulation of a virus (such as a common cold virus) so that tumour cells invaded by the virus become susceptible to antiviral drugs and/or to the body’s own immune system. This type of gene therapy is useful in localised tumours and has been trialled with some success in early malignant mesothelioma.

Photodynamic therapy
Photodynamic therapy involves injection of light-sensitive molecules into the pleural space, several days before surgery. These are taken up by the tumour cells, which then have intense light beams directed at them during surgery, resulting in the death of those cells. In good-risk patients with small malignant mesotheliomas, photodynamic therapy has been moderately successful, although complications may occur with poorly directed light, and has not improved survival or local disease control.