A new campaign currently appearing on television ad breaks warns of the risks of ignoring a persistent cough, which may be an early sign of cancer. The voice-over advises that while most lingering coughs are not an early symptom of cancer, three weeks should be the upper limit to delaying a visit to your GP or local health clinic.
As with many serious medical conditions, early detection is often crucial to effective treatment, recovery and survival rates. The advice is never more vital when applied to recognising early mesothelioma or asbestosis symptoms.
Organisations such as The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) regularly launch asbestos awareness campaigns aimed at helping the many men and women and close family members who may have been exposed to asbestos directly at their workplace or by ‘secondary’ exposure at home to recognise the possible early signs.
Even a relatively short term exposure during late teens or early twenties can lead to contracting asbestos-related disease. Fibre dust inhaled embeds in the lung linings causing inflammation and often leading to conditions such as pleural thickening, pleural plaques alongside other related respiratory complications, but which can still be eligible for mesothelioma compensation.
In some instances, cells turn cancerous, and the malignant tumours of the fatal and incurable mesothelioma cancer develop. Unfortunately, a significant property of asbestos-related disease is the long gestation period of between 15 to 50 years from an initial asbestos exposure to the emergence of asbestosis symptoms.
The long latency highlights the need for the earliest possible detection and taking of asbestos advice. Too often, mesothelioma is diagnosed at a very advanced stage when the cancer has spread to adjacent tissues or other organs and can be almost impossible to treat. Survival rates can range from 4 months to 2 years, possibly more, according to when the disease was first diagnosed.
The common problem of asbestos-related disease remaining undetected for such a long time compared to most other cancers has been known to lead to the possible early signs being confused and misdiagnosed as other common ailments, such as bronchitis, pneumonia, or respiratory disease as a consequence of a history of cigarette smoking.
Although every a patient is a unique case, there are still a number of factors involved in determining life expectancy, which have improved in recent years. Not only the stage the disease has reached when diagnosed indicating whether the mesothelioma is localised or advanced and spreading but also the patient’s age and general health, and their ability to recover plus the availability of types of asbestosis treatments.
If correctly diagnosed earlier about half of mesothelioma sufferers can expect to live for around two years, with 20 per cent surviving for five years, which drops to only 5 per cent for patients with advanced mesothelioma.
According to the HSE, there are around 13,500 new cases of occupational cancer each year, of which 60 per cent are fatal, although the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has estimated that the true annual figure is likely to be more than 20,000. Between 1968 and 2008, the HSE reported there had been an 100-fold increase in mesothelioma fatality with more than 2,200 cases reported. Currently, around 2,000 cases of mesothelioma are still being diagnosed every year in the UK.