PUBLIC awareness of the asbestos related cancer Mesothelioma is being raised by a new storyline in the popular ITV television programme Emmerdale, with a relatively young character Donna Windsor last night revealing she is terminally ill with the condition.
The story has quickly caused a stir amongst concerned viewers, with the cancer being one of the most searched for items on the internet soon after the programme was aired.
PLEASE NOTE: Neil Hudgell Solicitors no longer deal with this type of claim. This is an historic blog article to be used for reference only.
No doubt most people were shocked by the storyline of a healthy-looking young woman supposedly being struck down and left with just a couple of years to live by a condition which is commonly associated with older men.
It will have raised the question for many as to just how common it is for people under the age of 40, who have had no obvious past exposure to asbestos, to suffer from Mesothelioma, and why.
Firstly, it is important to stress that cases in people aged 40 or under are exceptionally rare, almost unheard of.
Between 2008 and 2010 in the UK, 80 per cent of Mesothelioma cases were diagnosed in men and women aged 65 and over, and just nine per cent were diagnosed in the under 60s.
But, as is being portrayed in the soap storyline, it can happen.
Research has shown that cases can develop spontaneously and not be linked to asbestos or any one specific cause.
Other potential causes can include second-hand exposure from a parent who worked with asbestos, from asbestos being present in schools they attended, or through breathing in contaminated air or playing in contaminated soil when young.
Patients who received radiation therapy during childhood for a kidney disease, called Wilms’ Tumor, are also said to be at risk of radiation-related mesothelioma, but this risk is still exceptionally low.
While people may say the current storyline could fall into ‘scaremongering’ it does in fact highlight a key element involved in all Mesothelioma related cases we deal with, in that most people are unaware they suffer from the condition until it has got hold of them and it is at an advanced stage.
At Neil Hudgell Solicitors, we deal with many cases like this, and we do as much as we can to spread the message to people who may have worked in environments using asbestos to have their health checked.
Some people may not even recall being exposed because even light and intermittent exposure to asbestos dust can cause illness.
Symptoms include pain in the lower back or the side of the chest, shortness of breath, high temperatures and sweating, a persistent cough, rapid weight loss, difficulty swallowing and sickness.
Unfortunately there is no known cure for mesothelioma, and although we know and appreciate no amount of money can compensate for the loss health, we can help secure clients with the compensation which will enable them to access the treatment and support they need to make the rest of their lives as manageable as possible.
Hopefully this ongoing soap storyline will encourage more people to think about their past, any possible exposure to asbestos, and if they are feeling unwell, see their doctor for advice.