Every year, April 28 is set aside to remember those who have died from work related illnesses such as mesothelioma and lung cancer. Workers Memorial Day is observed annually across the country to increase awareness and hopefully prevent future diseases related to exposure to known carcinogens such as asbestos. Workers most likely to develop mesothelioma and lung cancer are individuals who had direct contact with asbestos decades ago such as machinists, mechanics, pipefitters and other factory or industrial setting workers.
Mesothelioma is a rare form of lung cancer caused only by exposure to asbestos fibers. Mesothelioma is a diffuse malignancy usually invading the lining of the lungs called mesothelioma without clear boundaries. Lung cancer is characterized by individual tumors with clear boundaries. As awareness of these diseases increased, precautions have been taken to prevent exposure and protect workers. Year to year researchers are also making progress in the treatment of these diseases by identifying and targeting biomarkers. Identifying biomarkers gives physicians the ability to target the cells causing the cancer to grow. Treatments are frequently developed to target the particular biomarker thereby stopping the cancer growth.
Individuals at risk for lung cancer or mesothelioma should discuss the risks and benefits of an annual lung cancer screening with their physician. Early diagnosis and targeted treatment improves the lives of patients who have been diagnosed with work related illnesses such as mesothelioma and lung cancer. The more people know about asbestos, the more precautions can be taken to protect future workers. If you think you may have been exposed to asbestos, consider an annual screening. At a minimum we should all spread the word that mesothelioma and lung cancer are preventable diseases by avoiding exposure to asbestos.