How did warren Zevon get mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that in most cases grows slowly and unnoticed, often because there’s no obvious cause.
Mesothelioma is the name for a family of cancers that develops from the tissues surrounding the lungs and heart. The term mesothelioma was coined by Dr. George Raymond Winter, a surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital. It is not to be confused with MSP (mesotheliomas peritoneum) which is a rare type of cancer that occurs in connection with other organs of the upper body such as the stomach and intestine.
The cause of mesothelioma remains unknown, but several factors can increase your risk, including smoking or exposure to asbestos or other chemical substances.
Mesotheliomas are cancerous tumors located in any part of the body where air passages are present. They can grow anywhere along an airway and have many different characteristics depending on their location and whether they are solid or fluid-filled (like lung or stomach). Mesothelial cancers may also be referred to as “bronchioloalveolar” cancers because they develop from tissue within the lungs (“bronchial” = “lung”). Some types may form from the tissue beneath the surface of the skin, making them called cutaneous malignant tumors (“cutaneous” = “skin”) although it is difficult to distinguish these on physical grounds alone.
Warren Zevon’s Life
In the early hours of May 20, 1985, Warren Zevon made a fatal mistake. He drove to pick up his wife for their yearly vacation that he had been planning for years. At the time, Warren was in Los Angeles. He got out of his car and went into his home to get some things. Unfortunately, he had forgotten one important thing: he forgot to take his favorite guitar.
The next day, he felt a tremendous pain shooting down his spine. He screamed out in pain and vomited blood onto the floor. His doctor told him that he had mesothelioma: an extremely rare cancer of the lining of the lungs and usually found only in people who smoke or work with asbestos.
Warren’s life was cut short by mesothelioma two weeks later at age 53 on May 23rd, 1985. It is estimated that over 8 million people have this disease all over the world (though it doesn’t have a name yet). Mesothelioma is so rare that we don’t even have any statistics on it (though based on what we do know about its incidence we can estimate roughly where it can be found on Earth). The vast majority of cases are diagnosed after death and there are no known cures for it until recently when doctors figured out how to reduce tumors in mice by blocking tumor-suppressing chemicals called aromatase inhibitors.
If you’re interested in learning more about mesothelioma check out this article on Wikipedia (which has a good section comparing cancer types) and this one from Harvard Medical School. There are also several good resources to help you educate yourself about mesothelioma at MesoWiki, an independent site dedicated to mesothelioma research, and our own site, where you can learn about mesothelioma from all sides.
The first question we have to answer is “how did warren Zevon get mesothelioma?” Here’s the short answer:
Zevon was not a smoker, nor was he a heavy drinker. He drank only very lightly, and he had never even smoked in his life. Yet, he died of malignant mesothelioma at the age of 57 from inhaling asbestos dust.
In one sentence, he could have been describing his own death.
The mesothelial is a layer of tissue in the lining of organs that starts at the top of the lungs, travels down through the body, and ends with the skin where it folds into folds and can be found roughly where you would think “airway” on a human being. Mesothelial cancer is one type of lung cancer. Mesothelioma can occur in other places too — like in the chest or abdomen — but mostly it is found within one organ (i.e., lungs) as well as in other parts of the body like bone or bone marrow. There are many different types of mesothelioma cancer and there are many different ways to get it too. That’s why this post is going to be long: I’m going to take you through some history, some facts about Zevon’s disease (a very rare form), some resources on various sites related to its treatment, and a bunch more information about where you can find information on similar diseases that I know about around the web already (or new ones that I’ve found).
Before I start though, I’d like to thank all those who shared their stories with me over the years and helped me understand what kind of world we live in today (and how our solutions should behave) while also reminding us how lucky we are to live here. It’s an amazing place and if you want to help change things for good check out my blog here . With that out of the way let’s begin… . . . .
Mesothelioma is a rare and deadly form of lung cancer that occurs in the pleural space (the space between the lungs and the chest wall) of people who work in high-pressure environments. These include people who work with steel, as well as those who work with asbestos. The condition is fatal if not treated quickly.
In 2007, singer Warren Zevon’s wife died of mesothelioma. Although the cause was unknown at the time—it was discovered to have been caused by exposure to asbestos in his collection of guitars—he never publicly discussed it. He also never publicly acknowledged his wife’s death, which is what most people did when they hear “mesothelioma” or “lymphoma”—or even worse: “dysplasia” or “cancer”.
If you have read this far, chances are good that you already know something about this disease. If not, here’s some background to help you get a better understanding:
Mesothelioma is a very rare form of lung cancer that arises from exposure to asbestos fibers (a kind of mineral) in working conditions. The disease is usually not fatal, though it can be very serious. It usually arises from long-term exposure to asbestos, which causes abnormal deposits on the lining of organs such as the lungs and heart (a
sbestosis). Other possible causes include smoking or being exposed through other means like dust or swallowing food contaminated with asbestos after eating contaminated food that has been prepared with asbestos or other materials containing asbestos fibers (e.g., tile). Mesothelioma can be diagnosed only after a proper examination under the microscope and confirmation by genetic testing; however, there are no known treatments for mesothelioma at this time.
The only way to treat mesothelioma is surgery to remove all the affected tissues and surrounding tissue (asbestos may be present in these tissues), followed by chemotherapy for six months after surgery or radiation therapy for up to five years following surgery. The usual treatment lasts from 12-18 months depending on how much cancer has been removed from each organ.
A dermatologist may prescribe an oral medication called pyridostigmine bromide (known as Brattleboro) which can be taken every day while chemo is taking place at home but does not prevent chemotherapy side effects such as nausea and vomiting so should not be taken if you are having chemotherapy.