In the UK around 2,500 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma every year.
Mesothelioma is a cancer which mainly affects the lining of the outside of the lungs (the pleura). It can also affect the lining of the abdomen (peritoneum) and the heart, although this is less common. Exposure to asbestos is the only known cause of mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma is common is workers who have had direct exposure from handling asbestos products.
Asbestos use was prevalent in the 1960s and 1970s, particularly in the construction industry. A lot of the asbestos used in buildings has however not been removed or replaced. People who worked in the following occupations therefore may be at a high risk of developing mesothelioma:
- Asbestos product manufacturers
- Construction workers
- Insulation workers
- Railway engineers
- Building renovation and maintenance
There have also been a large number of cases where the sufferer has not worked with asbestos products directly but may have worked in proximity to it or may have been indirectly exposed via a relative who worked with asbestos. We have dealt with claims for wives who have contracted the condition from washing their husband’s work clothes, which were covered in asbestos dust.
It can take anywhere from 15 to 60 years from the initial exposure to asbestos for symptoms to develop.
Common symptoms of this condition include:
- Chest pain
- Persistent cough
- Shortness of breath
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Clubbing of the finger tips
Sadly, mesothelioma is incurable and the typical survival period following diagnosis is around 18 to 20 months; but it can be as short as 9 to 12 months. Some suffers have been known to live for up to 5 years or longer. This depends on the age of the sufferer and how advanced the disease is at the time it is diagnosed. Therefore, if you have been exposed to asbestos in the past and are experiencing any of the above symptoms you should see your GP as soon as possible, who will refer you to your local hospital for further tests.
If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with mesothelioma you may be entitled to compensation even if the company you worked for has closed down.
There are specialist court procedures in place, which enable mesothelioma claims to be dealt with quickly, within 6 months of court proceedings being issued. You may also be entitled to other financial assistance or benefits such as Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit, Disability Living Allowance or a payment under the Pneumoconiosis etc (Workers Compensation) Act 1979 or Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme.