Once again, the mesothelioma community will come together for a day to raise awareness and to educate the public about the dangers of asbestos. On Tuesday, Sept. 26, advocates, families, patients and members of the medical community will focus their efforts on spreading the word about the impact mesothelioma can have on a patient, family, community and the nation.
Acknowledging that there is no known safe level of exposure to asbestos, and that there is a clear need for new agents to improve the outlook for patients with mesothelioma, in 2010 Congress established National Mesothelioma Awareness Day as a time to educate all Americans that people are still dying from this incurable, asbestos-caused cancer.
Asbestos is classified as a human carcinogen, but still today in the U.S. an estimated 1.3 million construction and general industry workers are exposed to the deadly mineral. Although asbestos was once widely used in construction materials, and the U.S. government regulates the use of asbestos, it is still not banned in the U.S.
Recent studies point to an increase in mesothelioma deaths. In the U.S. alone researchers report an eight percent increase in mesothelioma deaths in the 10-year period ending in 2015. Nearly 3,000 Americans are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year. Worldwide that number is also increasing with an estimated 38,400 worldwide mesothelioma deaths each year.
The National Mesothelioma Awareness Day resolution urges the President to issue a proclamation calling on the people of the United States, Federal departments and agencies, States, localities, organizations, and media to annually observe a National Mesothelioma Awareness day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.
Following are key facts about the deadly cancer from the Congressional Declaration identifying the need for establishing a national awareness day:
- Whereas workers exposed on a daily basis over a long period of time are most at risk, but even short-term exposures can cause the disease and an exposure to asbestos for as little as one month can result in mesothelioma 20–50 years later;
- Whereas asbestos was used in the construction of virtually all office buildings, public schools, and homes built before 1975 and asbestos is still on the United States market in over 3,000 products;
- Whereas the National Institutes of Health reported to Congress in 2006 that mesothelioma is a difficult disease to detect, diagnose, and treat;
- Whereas for decades, the need to develop treatments for mesothelioma was overlooked and today, even the best available treatments usually have only a very limited effect and the expected survival time of those diagnosed with the disease is between 8 and 14 months;
- Whereas it is believed that many of the firefighters, police officers, and rescue workers from Ground Zero on September 11, 2001, may be at increased risk of contracting mesothelioma in the future
The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, a national organization dedicated to eradicating mesothelioma and the suffering it causes by funding the highest quality mesothelioma research, organized the first Mesothelioma Awareness Day in 2004. The foundation continues to advocate for mesothelioma patients and conducts, organizes and coordinates fundraising events across the country to raise awareness. The Meso Foundation “has been the driving force behind the movement to bring more attention and funding to this cancer.”