DIY Asbestos Removal and Mesothelioma

OncoLink Team
The Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania
Last Modified: May 7, 2013

Question

What trials and treatment options have good results? Is there a campaign running for do-it-yourself removal since there is so much asbestos still in the homes? Does the Unites States have the same problems in schools that we have in the United Kingdom that the buildings are old and have asbestos?

Answer

Dan Sterman, MD, Interventional Pulmonologist at Penn Medicine, responds:

For patients who are surgical candidates, there are several trials examining lung-sparing surgery combined with intrapleural therapies such as photodynamic therapy, heated iodine, or intrathoracic chemotherapy. Results from these lung-sparing surgeries are showing great promise. Surgery to remove the lung, in combination with intrathoracic chemotherapy, has also had great success for patients with very early-stage cancers. For patients that do not undergo surgery, other promising trials include the use of standard chemotherapy in combination with immune-based therapy.

I absolutely do not recommend do-it-yourself asbestos removal, as inappropriately performed abatement results in much higher asbestos exposures than leaving asbestos in place. There is an extensive EPA website with answers and helpful tips for asbestos detection, removal and containment issues.

Like with the United Kingdom, there are some schools in the United States that were constructed with asbestos insulation, particularly during the 1950's and 1960's.

This question and answer was part of the OncoLink Brown Bag Chat Series. View the entire Focus on Mesothelioma transcript.

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