• Early Detection Can Save Lives: The Case for Medical Monitoring For Asbestos Cancer
  • June 7, 2013 | Author: Scott A. McGee
  • Law Firm: Motley Rice - Mount Pleasant Office
  • Earlier this month, I, along with several colleagues, had the pleasure to hear from leading doctors and scientists for the annual Current Concepts and Controversies in Asbestos-Related Disease conference sponsored by Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Among the cutting edge topics covering asbestos research and disease prevention and treatment was a fascinating discussion on the need for medical monitoring and early asbestos disease detection.

    One particular tool we heard about that is giving many asbestos exposure victims hope is the increased use of low-dose computed topography (LDCT) to detect early lung cancers in at-risk people. At the conference, Dr. L. Christine Oliver discussed how National Lung Screening Trials showed a reduction in lung cancer deaths by 20.3 percent for those screened by LDCT. LDCT helps physicians detect smaller spots on the lung sooner than detection via conventional CT scans and has the added benefit of subjecting people to a quarter less radiation than a conventional scan. What this means for a patient at risk for asbestos cancer is that LDCT can allow doctors to detect possible lung cancers earlier, which can increase that patient’s treatment options and lifespan. The promising results of a study that monitored veterans at risk for developing lung cancer (due, in part, to their exposure to asbestos) using LDCT were presented recently at the American Thoracic Society’s 2013 International Conference in Philadelphia.

    With lung cancer deaths expected to exceed last year’s figure of 160,000 in the United States, early detection of stage 1 cancers using LDCT can potentially save thousands of lives. Unfortunately, LDCT is not currently covered by all major health plans, and there may be some out-of-pocket costs associated with this valuable tool. However, as the benefits of early detection and the sensitivity of LDCT continue to gain attention, many unions, insurance plans and companies have recently begun offering LDCT at a reduced rate or free to their members.

    My colleagues and I have had the honor of representing asbestos victims and their families for decades. Sadly, for so many of our clients, their cancers are advanced and few treatment options exist at the time of detection. We have seen the pain, turmoil and suffering that an asbestos cancer diagnosis brings to not only the workers, bystanders, spouses and children diagnosed with asbestos cancer,but also their families, friends and communities.

    Early detection of asbestos cancer can provide hope and treatment options for thousands of those who have been affected by these diseases. I look forward to following the LDCT research and other emerging studies that doctors and researchers continue to pursue in hopes of discovering better treatment options.