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Action Mesothelioma Day reminds us all of the ongoing dangers of asbestos

View profile for Deborah Foundling
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The use of the hazardous material asbestos may have been made illegal years ago, however we are still unfortunately seeing the effects of exposure to asbestos in the form of mesothelioma.  This type of cancer shows no sign of reducing. In fact 2,700 people are still diagnosed with mesothelioma each year, highlighting the need for more awareness about the dangers of exposure to asbestos and the support available for people should they face a diagnosis of mesothelioma.  Deborah Foundling, Industrial Disease specialist in our Personal Injury department, explains more about this disease, why Action Mesothelioma Day is so important and how we can support you.

What is mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a type of lung cancer which develops most commonly from exposure to asbestos.  When asbestos fibres are inhaled and move to the lungs, they can cause the pleural lining and tissue that surrounds the lungs to thicken, leading to complications which can develop into cancer.  While this can occur in other areas of the body, such as the heart and intestines, 90% of mesothelioma cases begin in the chest and lungs. 

There are many different symptoms that could indicate mesothelioma or other asbestos-related chest conditions, including but not limited to:

  • Shortness of breath accompanied by a cough
  • Pain in your lower back or in your chest
  • Fever and sweating
  • Throat difficulties
  • Facial swelling
  • Fatigue and loss of appetite

As these symptoms could understandably be mistaken for other illnesses, it is important that if you contract any symptoms of this nature and suspect that you may have been exposed to asbestos at some point in your lifetime, that you contact your GP for testing. 

What is Action Mesothelioma Day?

Due to the ongoing diagnoses of mesothelioma, UK Mesothelioma Alliance has created Action Mesothelioma Day as an opportunity to raise the awareness of the dangers of exposure to asbestos. Their aim is to bring together those within the community, such as carers, patients, healthcare and legal professionals, as well as those working within the construction and asbestos removal industries.

The Mesothelioma Patient Charter has been created with this in mind, to lobby the Government for change and support to eradicate the disease where possible, bringing to employers’ minds their responsibilities to their employees if asbestos is still present in their place of work. Asbestos is still present in many buildings such as hospitals, schools and construction sites.    

All employers have a duty to provide a safe working environment for their employees, and in certain sectors asbestos training is a necessity to ensure that employees can identify the material and know what to do should they discover it.  Asbestos is generally only dangerous once it is disturbed, as it is at this stage that the fibres can dislodge and become airborne.  If asbestos is uncovered, the site should be vacated immediately and a specialist asbestos removal company called. Under no circumstances should an individual attempt to remove the material themselves. 

How should I proceed after a diagnosis of mesothelioma?

If you are diagnosed with mesothelioma, we understand that this will be devastating news for you and your loved ones.  The first step is to discuss your prognosis with a specialist consultant, who can help you understand the severity of the cancer and compile a treatment plan.  While mesothelioma is unfortunately not curable, there are certain treatments that could either prolong your life or provide comfort for you. 

“There is a wide variety of support organisations and charities available for those who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, and we are pleased that these are being promoted during Action Mesothelioma Day,” concludes Deborah.  “Unfortunately, we see on a regular basis the consequences of working with asbestos, which can develop not only in a person directly but also through secondary exposure to the fibres.  We are on hand to discuss any potential claim for compensation that you may be able to make, which can assist you in the coming months and years with any medical bills, loss of earnings, care or adjustments you need to make to your home.”

If you or a loved one has received a diagnosis of mesothelioma, you can contact Deborah or a member of the Industrial Disease team on 0800 91 92 30 or email injuryteam@warnergoodman.co.uk.  To find out more about the support that the UK Mesothelioma Alliance can offer you, visit their website or follow them on social media with the hashtag #ActionMeso.

ENDS

This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice.  All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article.