The danger around you….
Asbestos. In popular use in walls and ceilings from the end of the 19th century. It helped absorb sound, was resistant to fire and chemical damage; useful as electrical insulation. It also held a dark secret.
When workers were exposed to the fibres or airborne dust particles – say during a renovation – this often laid the seeds of what would later become Mesothelioma. It can take 10-40 years for this rare and malignant form of cancer to show itself.
A difficult diagnosis.
It attacks the lining protecting the internal organs of the body; specifically the lungs (pleural) and abdomen (peritoneal); mainly in men. Cases have also been found in the testes and pericardium (the sac enclosing the heart).
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer – but it affects around 2,000 Britons annually. It is also very difficult to diagnose. Symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest wall pain and unexplained weight loss can suggest a range of other diseases. Usually, a biopsy is needed to confirm the diagnosis.
A poor prognosis.
Despite modest improvements in recent years, probably thanks to newer chemotherapy treatments and multimodality imagining, it can’t be ignored that the prognosis remains disappointing. Early detection and treatment does help; which is why it’s vital that a person’s GP should always know if they have been exposed to asbestos. This can included secondary exposures – such as washing asbestos dust-covered clothing.
Providing vital help.
Sadly, when someone has been diagnosed, it’s the beginning of a very difficult time for them and their family and friends. There is one area of worry – coping financially – where, thankfully, help is available. The National Asbestos Helpline has a team of lawyers, all experienced in fast-track asbestos disease-related compensation claims.
The government has recognised the need for quick interim compensation for Mesothelioma sufferers. These claims, representing up to £50,000, can often be completed within just 4-6 months. The National Asbestos Helpline can be contacted on 0808 163 3708, or on the web at www.nationalasbestos.co.uk.
Times have changed.
The import, sales and second-hand reuse of Chrysotile (white asbestos) was outlawed in the UK from 1999; brown and blue forms had already been banned in 1985. Recent regulations have placed a “duty to manage” asbestos on companies in non-domestic buildings.
This has come too late for those who face an uncertain future – through no fault of their own – fighting a malignant enemy.