It is time to address the underfunding for mesothelioma research

Despite the fact that mesothelioma will be responsible for 60,000 UK deaths over the next 30 years research into the deadly lung cancer is underfunded.

Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma is an aggressive and incurable type of chest cancer caused by exposure to asbestos dust and fibres. After inhaling asbestos dust Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma   can take between 13 and 70 years to develop the cancer but less than 10 percent of people survive for five years or more after diagnosis.

Victoria Roberts, an industrial disease lawyer specialising in asbestos for Birchall Blackburn Law, says: “Mesothelioma is a relatively rare cancer, usually diagnosed at an advanced stage and affects mostly people of retirement age, so it has been largely forgotten for many years and attracts very little research funding.”

Figures from the National Cancer Research Institute in 2014 revealed that just £820,000 was invested in mesothelioma research by NCRI partners. This number is significantly lower than the £7.5 million that was spent on the skin cancer melanoma and the £6.8 million spent on the blood cancer myeloma. Both have similar mortality rate as mesothelioma.

Treatments are usually aimed at easing symptoms and improving quality of life, as well as to try to prolong life. And although there have been some advances in the treatment of mesothelioma, it is still regarded as a terminal condition.

Finding new and effective treatments is absolutely crucial for the thousands of people at risk of developing mesothelioma, and the British Lung Foundation (BLF) is at the forefront of securing funding and investing in this crucial research.

The BLF had already invested more than £4 million in mesothelioma research and last year secured a generous gift of £5 million from the Victor Phillip Dahdaleh Charitable Foundation to support more ground-breaking research into the disease, matching government funding that was also announced earlier in 2016. The funding has enabled the BLF to fund significant research programmes and set up a Mesothelioma Research Network – but there is still a long way to go and many more millions needed. 

Ian Jarrold, Head of Research at the British Lung Foundation commented: “With advances in medical research and technologies our hope is strengthening for people who are diagnosed with mesothelioma.

“Well-funded research and continued investment in developing novel approaches and clinical trials is vital. This will enable us to develop breakthroughs in treatment that will help deliver improved care to patients. Additional research will cost millions of pounds, but it’s the only thing that can offer families dealing with a mesothelioma diagnosis more hope for the future.”

There are plenty of ways to support the BLF’s funding for mesothelioma research. It can be done through donations to the Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund or – like Birchall Blackburn Law – through the BLF’s Mesothelioma Patron Scheme.