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Mesothelioma - a growing killer
MESOTHELIOMA, a rare form of cancer usually caused by exposure to asbestos dust, is a growing killer – especially in former industrial areas such as the North-East.
Nationally, 2,500 people are diagnosed with the cancer every year and the number of deaths over the next 40 years is expected to reach 61,000, peaking at 2,040 in 2016.
In some areas of the North-East, the rate of deaths is more than three times higher than the national average. Between 1990 and 2005, 2,000 North-Easterners died of the disease.
Mesothelioma is claiming more and more lives because, although asbestos has been known to pose health risks for many years, the condition can take more than 40 years after exposure to develop.
Sufferers are most often men who worked jobs where asbestos was common. However, cases have also included people living nearby asbestos factories and mines and wives who infected by washing their husband’s workclothes.
The deadly asbestos particles are tiny and the condition, which affects the linings of the chest wall, stomach and abdomen, can be difficult to diagnose, often requiring a biopsy.
Symptoms include breathlessness, a persistent cough, weight loss and pain.
Treatment depends on the sufferer’s age and health but can include radiotherapy, chemotherapy and surgery.
For more information, call the National Helpline for Asbestosis Diseases on 08080-1633708.
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