Monday’s ABC article surrounding ground breaking developments into treatment of mesothelioma provides some hope for mesothelioma sufferers and their families. Mesothelioma is a cancer that is almost directly attributable to exposure to asbestos dust and fibre and until recently has been seen as incurable.

As noted in the article, the facts are;
    • 600 people are diagnosed each year with mesothelioma
    • Majority of sufferers are men
    • It is often diagnosed late
    • The median survival after diagnosis is 12 months
    • It can take at least 20 years after exposure to asbestos for mesothelioma to develop
It has been accepted for some time that exposure to the smallest amount of asbestos dust some 20 to 30 years ago has the potential to result in a diagnosis of mesothelioma.

There is no rhyme or reason as to why some people with minimal exposure (low dose cases) develop the cancer and why some people who may have worked with considerable quantities of the asbestos materials are left unharmed. Further, the prognosis for those that are diagnosed with mesothelioma is incredibly bleak with life expectancies of between 12 to 18 months from the date of diagnosis.

The case report, the subject of the ABC article, discusses a mesothelioma patient whose mesothelioma tumour almost entirely disappeared after receiving a new form of treatment. Associate Professor Glen Reid used a gene known as microRNA to inhibit the tumour’s growth. The clinical trial run by the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse centre has so far provided a considerable amount of hope for mesothelioma sufferers who until now have been given an almost guaranteed death sentence.

Associate Professor Reid described the use of the gene as a ‘Trojan Horse’;

"A nanocell is a delivery vehicle," he said. "You can package basically anything in there that you like, so a chemotherapy drug — or in our case a mini-gene — and then it's injected into the body. Once in the lung, the nanocells delivered the microRNA to the affected lung to inhibit tumour growth."
It’s important to note that most people exposed to asbestos will not develop an asbestos relate disease.
A large amount of asbestos remains within the general community because of its broad use in industrial application and manufacture. Asbestos used to be found commonly in the following;
    • Roofing, walls and vinyl floor tiles
    • lagging for insulation and fire proofing materials
    • stoves, heaters and radiators
    • brakes and clutch linings
    • plaster and paints
    • high temperature gaskets and electric wiring insulation
    • sealant on windows and door seals on ovens
    • electric hot water services and electrical switchboards.
There is usually a delay or ‘latency period’ from the time of exposure to the development of symptoms often as great as 40 years. That means that any exposure NOW will be virtually undetectable by Doctors or Radiological evidence immediately following exposure.

This unfortunately does not provide any immediate piece of mind. The only thing that can be immediately done is to maintain accurate records of the following;
    1. Where did the exposure occur,
    2. When did the exposure occur,
    3. How did the exposure occur,
    4. Were there any identifiable features of the material to which you were exposed? I.e. label’s, product stamps, specific textures of the product (as is often the case with building materials)
There are various avenues available to those diagnosed with an asbestos related disease to pursue compensation. Whilst compensation may do little to ease the pain of a diagnosis, it can provide some immediate financial security to sufferers and their families.

You can find further information of Asbestos Cases and Claims here. And you can get in touch with us here.

This article was written by Carl Hughes, Senior Associate here at Gouldson Legal. Carl has spent the better part of a decade fighting for the rights of workers; including in Asbestos Claims and Mesothelioma cases. He understands the devastation that asbestos related diseases wreak on lives, and the confusion of how a sufferer can claim compensation.

If you, a friend or family member have been affected by Asbestos and you would like to have a confidential discussion about your Asbestos Claims, you can call Carl directly on (07) 3009 7009.

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