MesotheliomaWeb.Org is a vital resource for patients and their families who are dealing with the deadly form of lung cancer known as mesothelioma. This important web site gives readers the most up-to-date information on research, treatments, diagnosis and other major questions about malignant mesothelioma. Last week, health care officials in Great Britain marked Action Mesothelioma Day, a day dedicated to workers who died from the disease and to raising awareness about its causes.

The British Lung Foundation launched the first Action Mesothelioma Day four years ago. Foundation representatives delivered the Mesothelioma Charter to then-Prime Minister Tony Blair’s office at 10 Downing Street in London. The Charter asked the government to provide additional funding for research into the disease, in addition to stronger measures to protect workers from asbestos, the only known cause of mesothelioma. The Charter also carried over fourteen thousand signatures, many of them from families affected by the disease and health care workers who treated mesothelioma patients.

In the city of Leicester in central England, the Leicester Cathedral held a service for those affected by the disease. Parishioners released four white doves to mark the occasion. Glenda Stretton, a seventy-two-year-old great-grandmother who attended the service, received her mesothelioma diagnosis is 2006. Mrs. Stretton has undergone intensive radiation treatments and chemotherapy, as well as having much of the linings of her lungs surgically removed.

For most of her life, Mrs. Stretton was a typical English housewife; she cared for her husband and five children. She washed her oldest son’s clothes while he worked on construction projects. Doctors theorize that she inhaled the fibers that clung to his clothes. The fibers then worked their way through her lungs and into the pleural mesothelium, the soft band of tissue surrounding the lungs.

Liz Darlison, the founder of one of the leading mesothelioma charities in the country, is a nurse specializing in the treatment of patients with the disease. She works at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester, where Mrs. Stretton and thirty other patients have been receiving treatment. She is also one of only four nurses in all of Britain specializing in mesothelioma treatments. She told reporters, “Even the smallest exposure … can cause this cancer”.

Mesothelioma has been a growing problem across Britain. The disease is estimated to be the leading cause of work-related fatalities in the country, with over two thousand deaths per year. The disease has a long latency period, often up to thirty years, so the problem is expected to get worse before it improves. Although the government has banned the use of asbestos for years, more cases will continue to arise as those exposed in past decades begin to exhibit symptoms of the disease.

As part of Action Mesothelioma Day, the British Lung Foundation recently launched a public awareness campaign for homeowners. Since many homes were constructed using asbestos-laced materials, homeowners are urged to get a professional asbestos assessment to insure that they do not inadvertently expose themselves to the dangerous dust during “do-it-yourself” home improvement projects.

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