Mesothelioma Cancer Diagnoses Increase Rapidly in Australia

by Peter Kent - Date: 2008-06-18 - Word Count: 728 Share This!

Scientists in Australia speculate that the number of mesothelioma cases reported there will rise rapidly over the next 15 years, reaching a disturbing peak of 900 deaths from mesothelioma cancer a year.

The Australian workforce once relied heavily on jobs from asbestos-related processing and construction companies and now is finding that they are becoming victims of their one-time employment.

Mesothelioma Death Rates

A professor for the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine used World Health Organization (WHO) figures and found that the UK and Australia both currently lead in the number of mesothelioma-related deaths worldwide.

Professor Julian Peto, head of the Cancer Research UK Epidemiology and Genetics Group, speculated that the death rate from asbestos-related diseases will only increase, especially among men who are currently 40 years of age, and who will become nearly 100 times more likely to die by the time they reach 80 years of age.

Peto also speculated that since the 1980s, there have been approximately 10,000 cases of mesothelioma reported in Australia alone. He also concluded that within the next 40 years, more than 25,000 Australians could die from asbestosis.

Asbestos and Mesothelioma Diagnosis

At its peak, in the 1970s, nearly 10,000 tonnes (equivalent to more than 22 million pounds) of brown asbestos was being imported into Australia for use in the construction industry, largely affecting construction workers, carpenters, plumbers, electricians and shipyard workers.

According to Peto, who presented his findings at a public lecture at the University of Melbourne in April 2008, nearly 500 Australian men and 100 Australian women are diagnosed each year with asbestos-related conditions including mesothelioma cancer.

What is Asbestos and How Does it Cause Mesothelioma?

Asbestos is derived from a mineral known as vermiculite. There are several types of asbestos found throughout the world, and the use of asbestos was wide spread during the 20th century worldwide, as it was a heat-resistant product that was inexpensively produced, offering the construction industry a cheaply made and easily mass produced product.

In Australia, not only was asbestos mined, but it was imported as well. For years, individuals were exposed to asbestos in many different ways and often, many of them developed mesothelioma cancer.

Mesothelioma is a type of lung cancer caused usually by the inhalation of asbestos fibers and dust. It is often misdiagnosed and even when symptoms are present, it can be difficult to diagnose.

Additionally, it is considered a silent killer, as individuals suffering from mesothelioma cancer are usually unaware of their condition until the cancer is too far along to treat. Mesothelioma can be a dormant condition, not revealing symptoms for decades in an individual.

Types of Asbestos

There are six types of asbestos commonly found including, chrysotile (white), amosite (brown), crocidolite (blue), tremolite, anthophyllite and actinolite. Among these six various types of asbestos the white, brown and blue were the most commonly used and are often associated with the construction industry. Chrysotile is considered a more flexible form of asbestos and its use was implemented into a range of products including cement roofing sheets for buildings, brake linings, pipe insulation, floor tiles, and even for fire protection within fuses. In the United States, chrysotile is the most common type of asbestos found and a large contributor for mesothelioma there.

Both amosite and crocidolite asbestos were banned in Australia in the 1980s, but prior to that they were widely used in Australia. Crocidolite is also predominately found in Australia and Africa.

The health affects of white asbestos was discovered early on, but the use of both brown and blue asbestos continued, and mining of the product soared until its medical affects became clear and regulations began to be implemented after the 1980s.

Australian Mesothelioma Treatment Facilities Increase

Due to the high rate of asbestosis cases reported in Australia, with no relief in site, many medical facilities and mesothelioma research centers are setting up headquarters there.

For example, the Asbestos Diseases Foundation of Australia and the Queensland Asbestos Related Disease Support Society are two groups working to offer mesothelioma victims support and information regarding their condition as well as funding for the research of mesothelioma treatments.

While mesothelioma treatment research continues there are no known cures for asbestos-related illnesses. Individuals are advised to speak with an experienced mesothelioma law firm to learn more about developing mesothelioma litigation.

Because of the preventable nature of mesothelioma and the high costs associated with managing the disease, developing a mesothelioma lawsuit may provide monetary compensation as a potential outcome for victims seeking relief.

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