Rare Disease Day 2018 – Raising awareness of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related conditions

Posted: 28th Feb 18 9:27 AM

February 28 is Rare Disease Day, and the National Asbestos Helpline is taking this opportunity to raise awareness of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases.

The UK has the world’s highest rate of mesothelioma, with more than 2,500 people diagnosed with the condition each year.

What is #RareDiseaseDay?

February 28 2018 will be the eleventh annual international Rare Disease Day. On and around this day, hundereds of organisations from countries andnregions all over the world will raise awareness of rare diseases. Rare Disease Day is held on the last day of February every year. Each year has a specific theme, and the theme for 2018 is “Research“.

Research is key – it brings hope to the millions of people living with rare diseases across the world.

Research is extremely important for mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases, as they can be life-changing conditions. There is hope that more can be done in terms of medical research and protection for future generations.

Why is it important to raise awareness of mesothelioma?

The rising number of people being diagnosed with mesothelioma has been directly linked to the UK’s continued import and use of deadly asbestos well into the 1990s.

Asbestos was used widely throughout the UK in construction and manufacturing, and most buildings built before the 1990s will contain some amount of it, including many schools, hospitals and houses.

Jan Garvey, from the National Asbestos Helpline said: “Research and funding into treatments for mesothelioma and other lung diseases remains far too low, and more needs to be done to combat this. Lung disease is one of the top three killer diseases in the UK, and mortality rates are roughly the same as they were 10 years ago.”

Craig Howell, industrial disease specialist and partner at Birchall Blackburn Law, said: “Awareness of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases is a serious issue that needs to be addressed. We help a great number of families and individuals affected by mesothelioma and we expect these numbers to rise as people from differing occupations start to develop the cancer, such as teachers and nurses who were exposed to asbestos from the buildings they worked in.”

What is mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is an incurable cancer caused by exposure to asbestos dust and fibres. The disease affects the thin membrane that covers the lungs.

It is a rare cancer, but it is becoming increasingly more common. Figures from the Health and Safety Executive show that more than 2,500 people are being diagnosed with mesothelioma in the UK each year and, according to the Department for Health and Pensions, 53,000 people will die from mesothelioma between 2013 and 2037.

There are about 5 times as many cases of the cancer in men as there are in women. This is most likely because the majority of cases are found in an older generation of skilled and manual workmen who were exposed to asbestos dust and fibres during their working life.
Asbestos in UK industry

Mesothelioma and asbestos

Asbestos is a fibrous material that was widely used for its fire-resistant and insulating properties until the late 1990s. The use of asbestos is now banned in the UK and there are strict guidelines about its safe removal.

It is estimated in the UK that 9 out of 10 men with mesothelioma and more than 8 out of 10 women have been in contact or were exposed to asbestos dust and fibres. We know that exposure to asbestos is the leading cause of mesothelioma.

Dr Robin Rudd, a medical expert in mesothelioma and asbestos-related disease cases, has stated: “Mesothelioma can occur after a low level of asbestos exposure and there is no threshold dose of asbestos below which there is no risk.”

This means that inhaling even a single fibre could potentially cause mesothelioma.

If you are ever told you have mesothelioma or another asbestos-related condition, know that you can get in touch with the National Asbestos Helpline for our full support and advice

Further reading


What is mesothelioma?

What is asbestos?

Asbestos in schools is a “serious” problem, Government report finds

What will an experienced mesothelioma lawyer do?