A commonly used antiseptic may bring some hope to those suffering from mesothelioma, a terminal form of cancer caused by asbestos exposure.
Italian researchers published a study in the European Journal of Cardiothoracic Surgery on January 6, which found that the use of Betadine killed mesothelioma cells. Researchers suggest that rinsing out the chest cavity of patients following mesothelioma surgery may prevent the cancer from regrowing and spreading.
Betadine, also known as povidone-iodine (PVP-I), is a mix of povidone and elemental iodine that has been used as an antiseptic since 1955. However, it is also known to be an antineoplastic that prevents growth.
Researchers tested Betadine on four different mesothelioma cell lines. They found that different cell lines required different amounts of Betadine exposure for different periods of time. But eventually Betadine killed all of the mesothelioma cells.
The researchers said the Betadine chest cavity rinse could be a cost-effective way to prevent mesothelioma cell regrowth.
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer, which is only known to be caused by exposure to asbestos and breathing asbestos fibers. It is associated with a very short life-expectancy after diagnosis, and there are no known effective treatments for mesothelioma.
Asbestos was widely used in a variety of manufacturing and construction applications throughout the last century, with use peaking in 1973. Most uses of asbestos were banned in the mid-1980s.
Mesothelioma litigation is the longest-running mass tort in U.S. history, with more than 600,000 people having filed a lawsuit against more than 6,000 defendants after being diagnosed with cancer that was allegedly caused by inhaling asbestos fibers.
In addition to cases for individuals directly exposed, in recent years there have been a growing number of second-hand asbestos exposure lawsuits brought on behalf of family members were exposed to fibers carried home on clothing or in the hair of individuals working with the material. Cases have been brought by individuals who were exposed as young children or babies when their parents would hold them after returning home from work with asbestos.
According to a 2009 report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of cases of malignant mesothelioma are just now peaking, since there is a long latency period of 20 to 40 years between exposure an diagnosis.