National Cancer Survivor’s Day falls on 5th June this year, and marks the incredible progress made in medical research, as well as advances in cancer treatments worldwide. It’s held on the first Sunday in June each year, with victims of cancer, their families and friends, taking time to raise awareness and celebrate life.
Survival rates for asbestos-related cancers are generally lower than other types of cancer, but with organisations like Mesothelioma UK funding ongoing research, there’s hope for the future.
The charity’s aim is to be able to donate around £3 million every year to laboratory research and medical trials. They also currently provide funding for 16 mesothelioma nurses within the NHS, and have plans to fund another 12 specialist nurses.
Asbestos-related cancer deaths expected to rise
Deaths from mesothelioma reached 2,538 in 2013, and although the number of asbestos-related lung cancer deaths needs to be estimated, it’s thought the mortality rate is very similar.
Experts predicted that deaths caused by asbestos exposure would peak around the middle of this decade, and only start to fall again as we enter the next. The scale of the problem was further recognised by the UK government, when they pledged £5 million to establish a national UK mesothelioma centre for treatment and research.
Why is asbestos so dangerous?
The physical characteristics of asbestos mean that if the substance breaks up, fine needle-like fibres can be released into the air. If these are inhaled, they’re likely to set up disease in later life.
In the past, asbestos was commonly used in a range of industries, including construction, shipbuilding, and automotive, but workers were largely oblivious to the fact that they were working with such a dangerous substance. If their bosses were aware, many simply ignored the problem or claimed that asbestos was safe.
High profile criminal cases including those brought against Pirelli Tyres and the Swiss-based firm Eternit, whose former directors went on trial for the deaths of 2,000 people in northern Italy, show the insidious nature of how worker health and safety was ignored in the past.
Hope for those recently diagnosed
National Cancer Survivor’s Day offers hope to those who have just been diagnosed. It’s a global event that aims to raise awareness of the issues faced by victims – an estimated 32 million people around the world have survived cancer.²
Laura Shipp, from the National Cancer Survivor’s Day Foundation, said:
When most people hear the word ‘cancer,’ they automatically think the worst. But the truth is that more people are living longer and better quality lives after cancer than ever before. National Cancer Survivors Day is an opportunity for these cancer survivors – and those who support them – to come together and celebrate this new reality in cancer survivorship.
In the case of mesothelioma, unfortunately victims only survive a few months on average after diagnosis. The disease can lie latent for many decades, and is often already at an advanced stage when a diagnosis is made.