The United States Congress has set September 26 aside as a day to raise public awareness about mesothelioma and to encourage fundraising efforts to fund research in the hopes of finding more effective treatments for this deadly disease. Mesothelioma is a rare and deadly form of cancer that is caused by exposure to asbestos, a toxic mineral. Roughly 3,000 Americans lose their lives to mesothelioma every year, while thousands more die from lung cancer and other cancers related to asbestos.
Mesothelioma research is expensive and is mostly funded by private donations. Scientists have recently made tremendous advances in correlating genetics with new mesothelioma therapies, but are still years away from finding a cure.
One organization known for funding mesothelioma research and for advocating for mesothelioma patients is the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation. A number of volunteers from this organization are responsible for planning the majority of Awareness Day.
National Mesothelioma Awareness Day was started by Congress in 2010 to help address mesothelioma patients’ medical needs. Following is an excerpt from the Congressional Declaration :
- Whereas mesothelioma is a terminal, asbestos-related cancer that affects the linings of the lungs, abdomen, heart, or testicles;
- 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 the National Institutes of Health reported to Congress in 2006 that mesothelioma is a difficult disease to detect, diagnose, and treat;
- Whereas the National Cancer Institute recognizes a clear need for new agents to improve the outlook for patients with mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases;
- 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…
Therefore, be it resolved, that the House of Representatives– (1) supports the goals and ideals of Mesothelioma Awareness Day; and (2) 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.
In addition to National Mesothelioma Awareness Day, the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation is also sponsoring the Knowledge is Hope conference, which will be held to mark the awareness day on September 28 in New York City. For more information, visit www.curemeso.org.