New figures from Cancer Research UK show that life-expectancy rates for many types of cancers have dramatically improved over the last four decades. For many patients today who receive a confirmed cancer diagnosis the findings should bring renewed hope and confidence that they may expect to live for another ten years at least.
According to Cancer Research UK, there has been, on average, a 25 per cent improvement to life-expectancy rates since 1971-2 when half of patients diagnosed with most forms of cancer died within 12 months. However, the figures also show there is still significant work to be done to improve the survival rates of cancers affecting the brain, throat, pancreas and lungs, where only between one and fifteen per cent of patients, on average, may expect to live another ten years.
Life-expectancy remains extremely low
One of the most enduring of challenges continues to be the search to improve the survival rates of patients suffering with the asbestos-related cancer, mesothelioma. Despite continuing efforts by clinical research worldwide, life-expectancy remains extremely low with an average of 2 to 6 months.
Asbestos mineral fibres were widely used in the production of insulating and fireproofing materials up until the first ban was introduced in the mid 1980s and continues to leave a catastrophic legacy for the many thousands of men and women who were regularly exposed to the fibre dust in the workplace. The exceptionally long ‘latency’ period from an initial period of exposure when the fibre particles are breathed in to a confirmed diagnosis of mesothelioma can often be between 15 to 50 years.
While “occupational exposure” to fibre dust was the chief cause for male workers to contract asbestos-related disease, their wives and daughters also ran a deadly health risk from “secondary exposure.” Each day, husbands and brothers would return home from work with asbestos-contaminated work clothes and overalls, which would be vigorously shaken by their spouses before being washing and laundered. Asbestos-dusted boots would also be cleaned and often daughters would wash and comb the dust from their father’s hair.
The legacy of Britain’s widespread use of asbestos in the production of insulating and fireproofing products continues to fatally affect thousands of victims to this day. The hope of finding a cure for mesothelioma cancer remains elusive and there is much vital work that needs to be done to help those diagnosed with the deadly disease.
Insurance industry investment
Cancer research relies on financial support from a wide number of private / public industries and charitable organisations, and their involvement is seen to be integral to continuing vital research into difficult diseases, such as malignant pleural mesothelioma. Funding for clinical research is vital at a time when governments cutbacks could, ultimately, have an impact upon the future of developing new treatments, and improving overall patient healthcare and quality of life.
The British Lung Foundation (BLF) have recently suggested that the insurance industry should consider increasing their current investment into mesothelioma research, which could also serve as a model for supporting other areas of research and even help to reduce future insurance compensation payouts.
Public Health Minister Jane Ellison states that 2,238 people were diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2011, and according to the Health and Safety Executive, at least 4,700 asbestos disease related deaths are recorded every year, with a forecast for around 28,500 deaths to be expected over the next ten years.
We believe that a concern for constant clinical research and seeking to understand the more complex care needs of patients must go hand in hand with ensuring that those who have been affected the most by this deadly disease, either through occupational or secondary exposure at home, should receive the justice they deserve."