A scheme which enables mesothelioma patients to reimburse travel expenses during specialist diagnoses or treatments from medical centres outside their local areas was introduced in April this year. Early detection and diagnosis may be critical in trying to extend individual life expectancy.

Victims and their families can be devastated by the unexpected news of a confirmed diagnosis, and in many cases, are at a loss as to how exposure to asbestos occurred. Understandably, there is a desperate need to find answers in the time a victim may have left. In some cases, time does run out and it is left to the spouse or another close family member to continue with their specialist asbestosis lawyers in bringing a former employer to account.

Mistakenly assume that they had picked up a winter cold

There was a time when the appearance of early asbestosis symptoms, such as a difficulty in sleeping, repeated coughing, chest pains or shortness of breath, were not so easily recognised, if at all. Even during the closing decades of the 20th century, victims would mistakenly assume that they had picked up a “winter cold”, or if symptoms were more severe, a heavy flu or bronchitis.

More than 80 per cent of all victims of asbestos exposure are more likely to be in their 70s or 80s when the first signs of mesothelioma disease emerge. Once again, it may easily be supposed that they are suffering typical ailments linked to advancing years.

Considerable improvements in diagnosing and treating respiratory ailments, and the promotion of an active, healthy and fit lifestyle at any age has also helped to change attitudes towards the expectation of illnesses and other health conditions in later life. One of the biggest changes may also be due to the UK’s July 2007 smoking ban in all enclosed work places, which has seen a reduction in the total number of adult smokers to around 17 per cent, according to latest figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

The need to recognise the early symptoms is crucial

Tragically, a confirmed diagnosis of asbestosis disease or the fatal mesothelioma cancer, is still more likely to occur some 30 to 40 years after the original period of exposure to asbestos. The need to recognise the early symptoms and to act upon them as soon as possible is crucial. Diagnosis and the necessary care / treatment are likely require repeated travel to a medical centre, which can be outside of the local area. It is good news for victims and their families that since April, mesothelioma patients can receive financial help with the reimbursement of their travel expenses.

Mesothelioma UK, the charitable trust which provides specialist information, support and care services for mesothelioma patients began the scheme, which will cover Standard class travel and accommodation for up to two nights for the patient and their carer, as well as the cost of car parking.

There is an estimated 80,000 undiagnosed cases of lung cancer and one million cases of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), according to Public Health England (PHE). In addition, latest Health and Safety Executive (HSE) figures on fatal injuries at work show that the number of deaths resulting from asbestos-related mesothelioma rose from 2,519 in 2014 to 2,542 in 2015. The HSE also say that 88 per cent of new cases of occupational lung diseases assessed for Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB) were associated with past asbestos exposure.

Mesothelioma accounts for nearly half of cancer fatalities in Britain today

Cancers such as asbestos-related mesothelioma now account for a half of cancer fatalities in Britain today, according to data collected from the National Cancer Intelligence Network. The data indicates that the occurrence of rare cancers among fewer than 100,000 people actually represents 47 per cent of all diagnosed cases in the UK. An estimated one per cent of all men and women who are exposed to asbestos will eventually develop the fatal and incurable cancer.

Obtaining diagnosis to help with subsequent care support and treatments depends on recognising potential symptoms, no matter how ordinary they might appear. Visiting a special medical centre is vital to the ongoing diagnosis and care process.

It has often been recounted how in previous decades, a bout of coughing or experiencing tight chests would simply be ignored because they were often mistakenly assumed to be the result of smoking, seasonal ailments or the effects of old age. In today’s climate of keeping healthy and fit, any sign of chest pain or unusual breathing problem should normally trigger an appointment to visit the GP followed by further tests. Any help with travel arrangements can only be a major help in encouraging earlier action and necessary follow up procedures.