Posts Tagged ‘Dr. Michael Harbut’

Karmanos tackles looming asbestos epidemic

2 Apr 2008 by under Events, Organizations, People

kci logo top.thumbnail Karmanos tackles looming asbestos epidemicAs I mentioned earlier this week, I spent the past weekend in Detroit, Michigan, at the 4th Annual Awareness Day Conference, presented by the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization ().

The conference was held at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, which is the location of the National Center for Vermiculite and Asbestos-Related Cancers, co-directed by Dr. Michael Harbut and Dr. John Ruckdeschel, both of whom spoke at the ADAO conference.

While it might seem obvious, Dr. Harbut said, a key to diagnosing and treating asbestos disease is an emphasis on a medical approach.

Dr. Harbut explained that the Karmanos program “approaches asbestos disease from a purely medical standpoint, which includes taking into account any risk factors, employing state-of-the-art scanning equipment and a multidisciplinary, research-driven approach to early detection and treatment. This includes consideration of non-mailgnant or sub-clinical asbestos disease.

“Diseases that are ‘not hurting you yet,’” he said.

Focus areas at the National Center for Vermiculite and Asbestos-Related Cancers include the establishment of a schema for high resolution CT (HRCT) classification, measurement of pleural plaque volume, examination of psycho-social aspects of asbestos disease, testing new treatments including osteopontin and SMRP, and compiling a comprehensive database of disease, diagnosis and treatment.

The Center encourages anyone at risk from asbestos exposure to seek testing for early detection.

Dr. Ruckdeschel said barriers to successful asbestos disease treatment include a sense of nihilism in the medical community, the idea of giving up on the patient when mesothelioma is diagnosed due to its traditionally high mortality rate. There is a sense of providing only “quick fix” supportive care, he said.

Other challenges include a lack of treatment centers with a documented track record, lack of large standardized treatment trials, and a paucity of research investment, Dr. Ruckdeschel said.

The Center predicts an epidemic of vermiculite and asbestos-related cancers in the near future, as the latency period of asbestos disease exposure is reached, and as asbestos exposure spreads around the world, particularly in third-world countries.

“One life lost to asbestos disease is tragic. Hundreds of thousands of lives lost is unconscionable,” Dr. Ruckdeschel said.

For more information, visit the Karmanos Cancer Institute online or call 1-800-KARMANOS.