Ban Asbestos Now Press Conference
Statement by Dr. Harvey Pass
Honorable senators, Ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to be an advocate for
patients afflicted with asbestos related cancers, and I am proud to represent a
small cadre of intensely devoted physicians, researchers, and nurses who,
behind the scenes, with far too little resources are trying to gain insight into the
management of this disease.
This disease, mesothelioma, is on the run.
Since its discovery in the 1950s when it was
found to be associated with asbestos,
mesothelioma has had the benefit of staying
under the radar, afflicting only 3000 or so
individuals in the United States, and befuddling
any attempts to understand how and when it will
It has defied early detection just enough to
frustrate the most skilled clinicians such that the
unfortunates who eventually manifest the disease are mainly in advanced stages
with horrific symptoms of pain, shortness of breath, and weight loss.
This frustration has been fed by the diseases’ resistance to standard therapies
including chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery, and up until recently this
frustration has led to the propogation of nihilism by the medical community when
confronted with such patients.
There is nothing more dangerous to medical research than nihilism since it is an
excuse for disregard.
Moreover, as a society, we use further excuses when confronted with this disease
by citing that the “peak incidence” is approaching and because of our asbestos
abatement programs, the disease will decline and disappear rapidly after 2020.
I am not an epidemiologist. I am a surgeon, but I will go on record as saying that
we are fooling ourselves, and doing an incredible injustice to many of our neighbors
if we think that mesothelioma and asbestos related cancers are going to “go away”.
Look to the west, and we are confronted with a new hotspot in Libby Montana, a
situation so critical that a public health crises outcry nec