Australia has one of the highest rates of mesothelioma in the world. That’s because until the 1980s, asbestos – the main cause of the disease – was widely used Down Under in everything from buildings to car brake pads.
What is mesothelioma?
To put it simply, mesothelioma is a type of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, abdomen or heart. It’s a rare disease, but most commonly found in people who have been exposed to asbestos at some point in their lives.
As it stands, mesothelioma is an incurable cancer. It can also take between 20 and 30 years for someone with the disease to begin exhibiting symptoms, which means it’s often quite advanced by the time it’s diagnosed. These symptoms may include shortness of breath, unexplained weight loss, pain in the chest, lower back or abdomen, and exhaustion.
A report published by Safe Work Australia in October 2013 reveals that in 2009, a total of 666 people were diagnosed with mesothelioma. The number of new cases has been on the rise since 1982, when data first became available.
In 2011, a total of 606 people in Australia died from the disease. Safe Work Australia states that due to the “long latency between exposure to asbestos and diagnosis of mesothelioma,” the number of people diagnosed with and killed by the disease will likely not reach its peak until 2017.
Mesothelioma in New South Wales
According to Safe Work Australia’s report, New South Wales has the largest number of cases of mesothelioma in the country. Between 2005 and 2009, around 216 new cases were reported each year in New South Wales. That compares with 140 in Victoria and 125 in Queensland, which had the second and third largest number of cases. This is partly due to the fact New South Wales is Australia’s most populous state.
Cancer Institute New South Wales states that mesothelioma accounts for 0.6 per cent of new cases of cancer in the state each year. It also reveals that males are more likely to suffer from the disease than females – 85 per cent of all cases occur in males. The survival rates for people diagnosed with mesothelioma are poor, with just 40 per cent surviving one year after diagnosis and 4.5 per cent surviving five years.
However, there is hope. In November 2013, the Asbestos Diseases Research Institute in Sydney revealed a new treatment was successfully repressing the growth of tumors in test subjects.
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you could be eligible to make asbestos claims. A compensation lawyer can help you determine whether you have a case.