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The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, Santa Barbara, California, USA.
From a social perspective, a number of factors may explain why mesothelioma research has tended to be an “orphan.” The disease has a relatively low incidence compared to other cancers, the average age of mesothelioma patients is relatively high, the disease is expected to decline “on its own,” and the disease has long been considered intractable to therapy. However, there are persuasive counterpoints to these factors. Additionally, other aspects of the mesothelioma tragedy persuasively justify societal investment in mesothelioma research. Social justice is among the strongest of these reasons, but paradoxically, it also significantly impedes progress. Mesothelioma patients’ contribution to society is another strong justification, although also not without problems. Finally, optimal utilization of resources provides a very pragmatic, and potentially very forceful, justification for increased societal investment in mesothelioma research.