Mesothelioma Care in the UK
As we approach the UKs annual Action Mesothelioma Day (July 6, 2018),1 a twenty-four page report has been issued by the Royal College of Physicians and Mesothelioma UK which provides evidence of progress being made in the care for patients suffering from mesothelioma, a deadly cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. The new publication, which drew on detailed data from 7,192 individuals with mesothelioma, revealed that during the period 2014-2016 more mesothelioma patients in England and Wales received active treatment i.e. anti-cancer treatment with chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery or a combination of the three. 2 This is a huge turnaround from the situation which prevailed during the late 20th and early 21st century. As recently as 2003, medical specialists reported that:
Other significant findings reported in the National Mesothelioma Audit 2018 included:
Amongst the reports recommendations were suggestions to: improve the quality of data collection, conduct surgical survival audits, provide better information to guide patients treatment decisions, ensure patient referrals to clinical trials outside their areas.
Welcoming the increased proportion of patients who received chemotherapy during the audit period, Professor Mick Peake, Chair of the Board of Trustees, Mesothelioma UK, expressed reservations regarding the wide variations existing between cancer alliances. It is clear, he said that many lung cancer MDTs are managing very small numbers of cases each year. I hope that those responsible for providing and commissioning the services for patients suffering from mesothelioma will look at this report and seriously consider what implications it has for their own responsibilities for providing high quality care for all. Despite the progress being made and the increased number of patients receiving active treatment for mesothelioma patients only 7% of patients survived for three years post-diagnosis. It is clear that much remains to be done.
June 22, 2018
2 National Mesothelioma Audit report 2018 (for the audit period 201416). June 21, 2018.
3 Kazan-Allen L. Reporting on 20 Years of Asbestos Activism. British Asbestos Newsletter. Issue 78, Spring 2010.