Mesothelioma is a long-winded word that many of the general public won’t have heard of and its a type of cancer affecting the lining of the lungs. New figures from HSE on mesothelioma mortality for the years 1958 to 2013 show that the UK has the worst mortality rates for mesothelioma in the world and this has not even peaked yet. Unless new treatments are found, it is estimated that 60,000 people will die of mesothelioma over the next 30 years.
The main cause of mesothelioma is breathing in asbestos dust. The long-lasting and devastating damage this lethal fibre would do in decades to come could not have been predicted, and consequently asbestos was widely used until the 1990s in construction and other industries to insulate and fireproof buildings.
Many of those affected by mesothelioma developed the disease just by working in a building containing loose asbestos, and even unwittingly exposed family members and loved ones to stray asbestos on their clothing. Mesothelioma is also more common among those who were exposed to asbestos while serving in the navy.
While the disease is still little known among the general public, this terminal cancer kills around 2,500 people every year in the UK. Prognosis is poor and unfortunately most mesothelioma patients will die within mere months of their diagnosis – fewer than one in 10 will survive three years.
The disease is cruel in its dormancy, only developing years – sometimes decades – after the time of the original exposure to asbestos.
While asbestos was banned in the UK in 1999, it is still found today in many buildings including homes, schools and hospitals. Harmless if undisturbed, asbestos is nevertheless a dormant danger lurking behind the wall.