The Importance of Mesothelioma Awareness and Research

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Ask one of your friends what mesothelioma is. If you friend has even heard of it at all, their reply will most likely sound something like, “Is that the thing they talk about on the late-night lawyer commercials?”

Sadly, most people have no idea what mesothelioma actually is, what causes it or who is most at risk to develop it. This asbestos-related cancer is only diagnosed in about 2,000 to 3,000 people each year in the United States. Because it is so rare, awareness about mesothelioma is relatively low, and few organizations dedicate their time and resources to researching the disease. Because mesothelioma diagnoses are expected to peak between 2015 and 2030, it is more crucial now than it ever has been to focus on mesothelioma awareness and research. However, the only way to amp up the scientific study of mesothelioma is to amp up the amount of funding poured into the projects.

Mesothelioma Research Organizations

Several organizations across the United States dedicate all of their time and money to testing cutting-edge treatments for mesothelioma. Research organizations like the Mesothelioma Applied Research Fund and the Pacific Mesothelioma Center improve the outlook for current and future patients by creating and testing new therapies that may yield more promising prognosis. However, these nonprofits still struggle to raise enough funding to adequately research all of the potentially lifesaving mesothelioma treatments. The NCI estimates that mesothelioma receives as little as seven times the amount of funding that other cancers receive.

Since 2000, the leading mesothelioma research organization – the Mesothelioma Foundation – has received only $7.6 million for peer-reviewed mesothelioma research. To help increase the amount of funding designated for mesothelioma research, many organizations are turning to awareness events and fundraisers to benefit mesothelioma charities.

Helping Mesothelioma Awareness Organizations Raise Funds for Research

In 2003, the cost of bringing a new drug to the market cost more than $802 million. That price has shot to over $1.7 billion today, including all of the costs involved with research and development.

The National Cancer Institute currently operates 68 clinical trials related to mesothelioma. However, considering the unsatisfactory state of mesothelioma treatment (the average prognosis for a mesothelioma patient comes in at under a year), there is plenty room for improvement – and for more clinical trials.

But where will the funding come from?

Miles for Meso is one of the major fundraisers for mesothelioma, currently heading into its fourth year. The 5K is held in multiple cities around the globe and raises funds for the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation. The benefits have donated more than $160,000 of race proceeds to the organization. Several other smaller, local fundraisers are held on September 26th, the official Mesothelioma Awareness Day. However, with little time to waste, advocacy and awareness events are popping up year-round on calendars. Proceeds from these events are typically funneled into clinical trials, including recent projects that include research on a new mesothelioma chemotherapy drug called Axitinib and a study of a novel gene transfer for the treatment of mesothelioma.

Results from these mesothelioma clinical trials are often presented at large mesothelioma conferences, such as the Abramson Cancer Center’s Focus on Mesothelioma Conference. At these awareness events, researchers, doctors, patients and caregivers come together to share their knowledge and experiences and learn more about the cancer. To get involved with mesothelioma awareness events near you, ask your oncologist for a list of events in your area or check out the websites of the research organizations listed above.

Mesothelioma Awareness Events

Bio: Faith Franz is a writer for the Mesothelioma Center. She combines her interests in whole-body health and medical research to educate the mesothelioma community about the newest developments in cancer care.

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