New York, NY – ( It’s an old adage in business that demand drives supply, and the same corollary applies in the medical field.

For example, the fact that cases of malignant pleural mesothelioma, or MPM, are expected to double in the next twenty years means that more money will be awarded to victims of this type of cancer, and that, in turn, will drive research efforts to find a cure.

According to, mesothelioma is a rare disease caused by inhaled or ingested asbestos fibers. When fibers are inhaled, they lodge in the mesothelial linings that surround and protect the lung, and lead to MPM. When ingested, they can lead to mesothelioma of the peritoneal linings of the abdomen. In a few extremely rare cases, asbestos fibers can lodge in the protective tissue around the heart and cause pericardial mesothelioma.

Wherever the location, mesothelioma is a particularly insidious form of cancer that lies dormant, sometimes for as long as fifty years (or more), before exploding into highly aggressive and invasive tumors that, once diagnosed, usually provide a prognosis of one year, or perhaps slightly longer, to live.

The current incidence of mesothelioma – 1.1 to 1.25 cases per 100,000 individuals, or 2,485 deaths in 1999 – is expected to double in many countries over the next twenty years, largely because many countries have failed to pass a total asbestos ban. The doubling is predicated on research done by a group of scientists, whose published estimates appeared in the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) Clinical Practice Guidelines, the Annals of Oncology, 2010.

According to a National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) report on mesothelioma statistics and legal information, in 1999 California (with the highest population in the nation, and a high incidence of naturally-occurring asbestos rock formations) led the country in the number of mesothelioma cases.

Two highly industrialized states – New York and New Jersey – came in fourth and eighth in terms of mesothelioma cases, New York with 156 and New Jersey with 111. Second and third in terms of prevalence were Florida (with its many retirees at an age when mesothelioma begins to manifest) with 163 deaths, and Pennsylvania, the mining state, at 161. These rankings did not change appreciably even in 2002.

As the study notes, treatment of mesothelioma via radiation and surgery has been associated with low success rates, even where patients remained vigorous enough to tolerate such therapies. In addition, such treatments rarely showed a curative value, but were instead used as palliative measures, to reduce pain and improve breathing.

More recently, chemotherapy has provided front-line treatment options, largely because it is more easily tolerated by those weakened from mesothelioma, and because its administration is not commonly invasive, as is the case with extrapleural pneumonectomy or pleurectomy.

At the 35th ESMO Congress in Milan, Italy, October 8 through the 12, a symposium sponsored by Hospira gathered a group of internationally recognized experts who agreed that Raltitrexed (Tomudex®) in combination with cisplatin enhanced median overall survival rates compared with treatment via cisplatin alone in patients suffering from mesothelioma.

These ratios – 23.6 percent for dual treatment as compared to 13.6 percent for cisplatin alone – were significant, as was the fact that Raltitrexed added 2.8 months to patients’ survival times. Raltitrexed was also linked to improved progression-free survival, compared to the use of cisplatin alone.

Researchers also concluded that some form of Vitamin E therapy could also be effective in inducing apoptosis, or cell death, and as a means of suppressing tumor growth, based on five years of data showing that alpha tocepherol, the most common form of Vitamin E in the human body, has been shown effective in battling breast cancer.