Mesothelioma: Learning The Facts

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Digital chest x-ray of advanced malignant mesothelioma on left

It is a constant mission to raise awareness for diseases across the medical board. From the well-known to the unknown and everything in between, it has become more and more difficult to spot illnesses like mesothelioma. The Mesothelioma + Asbestos Awareness (MAA) Center is an organization that attempts to bring attention to the dangers of asbestos exposure and asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma. Sarah Wallace is a health advocate for the MAA Center and shed some light on the cancerous disease.

What is your role with the Mesothelioma + Asbestos Awareness Center?

As a health advocate with the Mesothelioma + Asbestos Awareness Center, one of my main goals is to raise awareness about asbestos-related diseases. This is done primarily through outreach and collaboration efforts with other organizations, especially those invested in providing individuals and communities with information to protect public health and improve quality of life.

Tell me about the MAA Center?

The MAA Center is an advocacy organization seeking to educate people about the dangers of asbestos exposure, connect mesothelioma patients with relevant experts, and act as a news source for mesothelioma and asbestos-related issues.

What are some ways you garner attention for mesothelioma?

AIn addition to providing information, we seek to raise awareness by promoting multiple events throughout the year. Some of these include:

DAO’s Mesothelioma Awareness Month: Each September, the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) raises awareness about asbestos-related diseases, prevention and detection methods, and current progress toward finding a cure.

Mesothelioma Awareness Day (MAD): Each year on Sept. 26, patients, survivors, loved ones, and organizations hold events to raise awareness about mesothelioma, the dangers of asbestos exposure, and the need to ban asbestos. This year marks the 14th annual Mesothelioma Awareness Day.

Rare Disease Day: Rare Disease Day takes place on the last day of February. A rare disease is defined as a condition affecting fewer than 200,000 people a year. This includes rare cancers like mesothelioma, along with nearly 7,000 other conditions. Because these diseases are often misdiagnosed, patients can find themselves with a lack of treatment options. For this reason, organizations use Rare Disease Day to raise awareness and advocate for more clinical trials and studies dedicated to finding cures.

What are the consequences of asbestos exposure?

Asbestos is a naturally-occurring mineral that has been used in thousands of manufacturing and consumer products throughout history. In the past, asbestos was referred to as a “miracle” mineral because it is both heat and chemical resistant and extremely durable. Though it was used extensively in the United States through much of the 20th century, research has found that materials containing asbestos can cause serious health problems, especially when they are disturbed or damaged.

When asbestos is disturbed, people can accidentally ingest or inhale the microscopic fibers.
This may lead to serious health problems, including conditions like asbestosis, certain types of lung cancers, and mesothelioma. For mesothelioma patients specifically, prognosis is often poor because the disease has a long latency period (anywhere from 10 to 50 years) and because symptoms are often misdiagnosed.

Reaching a diagnosis is especially difficult for individuals who are not seen as having a direct link to asbestos exposure. Historically, asbestos was tied to male-dominated occupations like manufacturing and construction. However, because asbestos could be found in more than 3,000 consumer products at the height of its use and can be present in homes, schools, and public infrastructure today, everyone should understand the consequences associated with asbestos use and exposure.

For more information on the Mesothelioma + Asbestos Awareness Center, visit www.maacenter.org.

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Jennifer Fauci is the managing editor of Long Island Weekly, Anton Media Group's award-winning special sections and Anton’s local magazines. Her passion for literature, travel and the arts lend to the unique content in her publications. In her time at Anton, she has received first place in the Folio Awards, second place for the NYPA awards and is the recipient of six PCLI awards.

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