Dear Editor, It was heartening to see your report (February 17th) that lung cancer cases are due to drop by a fifth in the next twenty years; however people should be aware that this does not include all lung related cancers.
Our charity, Asbestos Support West Midlands, helps people suffering from asbestos related diseases including mesothelioma, a cancer which usually affects the pleura surrounding the lungs.
Mesothelioma is currently always fatal and the number of people suffering is increasing each year. Doctors believe 50,000 sufferers will die in the next forty years; thousands of these will be people living in the West Midlands. It’s only known cause in this country is exposure to asbestos.
Three years ago the British Lung Foundation and Asbestos Support Groups across the country were so concerned about the lack of awareness of this disease that they founded Action Mesothelioma Day. Since then the day has become a focus for remembering all those who have lost their lives.
This year’s Action Mesothelioma Day falls on February 27th and will be marked in Birmingham with a ceremonial dove release in the grounds of St Philips Cathedral at 3.30pm, after which the Lord Mayor of Birmingham will welcome participants into the Council House.
This day also provides a great opportunity to raise money for organisations like the June Hancock Mesothelioma Research Fund who ensure vital research is carried out into this disease. This year we are asking the Government to match the commitment of such Funds and properly resource a National Centre for Asbestos Related Diseases. With so many people now suffering it is not fair that all the research should have to be funded by charities.
So I hope that your readers will consider joining us on February 27th, because raising awareness can save lives. The drop in lung cancer cases you reported is due to the awareness campaigns on the dangers of smoking. The better treatment of lung cancer is due to the research carried out. Hopefully we can ensure that the future brings similar results for mesothelioma sufferers.
Project Worker, Asbestos Support West Midlands