New FDA Warning for Antibiotics Commonly Prescribed to Mesothelioma Patients


According to a report by the FDA, fluoroquinolones antibiotics now require new labeling to more adequately describe their most serious side-effect known as peripheral neuropathy.

Peripheral neuropathy is damage to nerves that initially presents itself as a tingling or shock sensation experienced in both the upper and lower extremities. It can cause a decrease in sensory perception (often referred to as a stocking and glove effect), hearing loss, and can often be quite painful.

Patients undergoing treatment of mesothelioma, with evidence of urinary or respiratory infection, are commonly prescribed fluoroquinolone drugs such as levofloxacin (Levaquin) and ciprofloxacin (Cipro).

“Mesothelioma patients should be especially aware of these side-effects as they are already prone to them as a result of some chemotherapy agents. In mesothelioma, Cisplatin is the main culprit for causing this adverse effect,” said nurse practitioner Mary Hesdorffer, executive director of the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation.

“If patients experience any symptoms of neuropathy, they should inform their medical team. If this is thought to be related to chemotherapy, they will either change the drug entirely or will, in some cases, adjust the dosage and closely monitor the patient to avoid permanent damage. If related to the antibiotic, it will be discontinued and another drug will be given in its place,” Ms. Hesdorffer added.

When damage has already occurred, the patient will undergo an electromyogram (EMG), a test used to check the extent of damage by measuring the rate at which nerves send signals to muscles. These signals are referred to as impulses.

Commonly prescribed treatments for pain related to peripheral neuropathy, gapapentin (Neurontin) or Lyrica, do not heal this condition but can alleviate some of the pain associated with it.

According to new research, it appears that acupuncture, both manual and electric, may have beneficial effects for those suffering from this condition.

Want to learn more about treatment of mesothelioma? Ask our experts today.

WTC Health Program Expands Coverage to Include Pentagon

PentagonThe World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program recently extended its coverage to include rescue, recovery, and clean-up workers who served at the Pentagon on September 11, 2001 during and after the terrorist attacks. The Program provides free medical screenings and treatment for health issues (including mesothelioma) related to exposures from the September 11th attacks.

The Pentagon was originally built in 1942 with asbestos-containing materials. In 1998, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began a “greening” of the building, which included the removal of hazardous debris and materials – asbestos included. The renovations were changed to a “monumental rebuilding” of the Pentagon following the 2001 attacks.

Due in part to the direct advocacy of the Meso Foundation and community, mesothelioma became a disease eligible for coverage under the WTC Health Program in 2012. Last year, the Foundation presented the Bruce Vento Hope Builder awards to the Senators of New York and the Congressional Representatives of New York City who worked together to ensure mesothelioma and other cancers were made eligible for coverage.

More information about the history of the WTC Health Program and the involvement of the Meso Foundation, can be found in the blog post September 11 and Mesothelioma: Working to Protect those Exposed to Asbestos from Cancer and Mesothelioma.

More information about the awards presented to the New York Members of Congress can be found in the blog post Senator Chuck Schumer Thanks the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation for its Work.

Have a Flag Flown on Capitol Hill for Mesothelioma Awareness Day

CapitolHillFlagAs a way to honor your loved one, this year for Mesothelioma Awareness Day, have a flag flown over Capitol Hill.

The Architect of the Capitol’s Capitol Flag Program is set up so that individuals may acquire an American flag to be flown over the Capitol Building in Washington, DC. These flags are flown each day (minus Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day), weather-permitting, and are issued with a Certificate of Authenticity from the Architect of the Capitol. The certificate displays the date the flag was flown and for what occasion.

We highly encourage those interested in receiving a flag flown in honor of your loved one on National Mesothelioma Awareness Day to contact your Representative to submit the request. Requests should be made at least two weeks in advance to allow for processing. Find your representative’s contact information.

Be sure to specify that you wish your flag to be flown in honor of your loved one on September 26, which is the “National Mesothelioma Awareness Day”!

Mesothelioma Awareness Day Events and Activities

100_0430September 26th, Meso Awareness Day, will be here in a little over one month, and with that, the Meso Foundation and its volunteers are busy organizing events and planning various activities to help us get the word out about the need for research and to raise funds for research and patient services.

If you would like to attend any of these events, please contact the Foundation for more information.

If you plan on joining us in New York, here is the plan:

  • Thursday, September 26 at 5:30 AM | Rockefeller Plaza:  we will be meeting in Rockefeller Plaza to raise awareness at the Today show.
  • Friday, September 27 at 9 AM | Conference: join us at the regional conference on malignant mesothelioma at the Harvard Club in New York City. More information and registration form are available on our website.

Other awareness activities include:


Bowel Obstructions in Patients with Peritoneal Mesothelioma

Mary Hesdorffer, NPPatients with peritoneal mesothelioma appear to be at an increased risk of bowel obstructions either due to disease or perhaps as a consequence of their treatment. They can be caused by adhesions (scar tissue) and/or tumors among other predisposing conditions. Signs of a bowel obstruction include abdominal pain, cessation of bowel movement, absence of bowel sounds and inability to digest food.  Patients might also vomit fecal material.

Bowel obstructions are considered to be a medical emergency and require immediate attention. However, not all obstructions require surgery. Patients are often admitted to the hospital where they receive IV hydration. A nasal gastric tube is placed to remove stomach contents thus permitting the bowel to rest and inflammation to resolve on its own. Symptoms usually resolve 3-5 days following this intervention. In some cases it may be necessary to perform a surgical procedure to remove the mass or adhesion thus freeing the bowel to receive the necessary blood supply to remain healthy and functional. Patients with symptoms consistent with a bowel obstruction should contact their medical team immediately.

If a bowel obstruction is suspected, the patient will undergo a series of abdominal X-rays which can help diagnose an obstruction and determine if it is located in the large or small intestine.

Some symptoms of obstruction may lead to the diagnosis of an ileus, which is a functional obstruction caused by the absence of peristalsis, without a true blockage. It can be the result of narcotics or side-effect of some chemotherapeutic drugs or other administered medications. Sometimes medication to increase gastric motility can help in reversing this condition and surgery is usually not indicated in this situation. Patients are often discharged from the hospital with instructions to continue with regimens that will help to produce increased bowel evacuation.

For questions about treatment options, clinical trials, side-effect, or general support, patients are encouraged to contact Mary Hesdorffer, Nurse Practitioner. Ms. Hesdorffer is the executive director of the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation. She received her undergraduate degree at the College of New Rochelle in NY and went on to receive her Masters of Science at the same institution. She is fully credentialed as a nurse practitioner and has spent 16 years actively treating patients with mesothelioma.

Mary has an expertise in the development and implementation of clinical trials. She is published in peer-reviewed journals and has lectured nationally on topics pertaining to mesothelioma with particular emphasis on clinical trials as well as symptom and disease management.

Mary is a strong voice in urging increased transparency to the medical and legal issues surrounding mesothelioma with a strong emphasis on ethics.

She is passionate in her commitment to the treatment and management of this disease and hopes to increase awareness of the need to advance the science that will lead to a cure. She is available via phone or email to assist patients and caregivers as they regain control after being thrust into the chaos of this disease.