Misdiagnosis & Under Reporting of Mesothelioma

This month a research article focusing on the global magnitude of mesothelioma was published online by Environmental Health Perspectives.

The aim of the study was to estimate the global effect of asbestos use and the cases of mesothelioma.

Using data about asbestos use and the occurrence of mesothelioma from 56 countries, it was concluded that globally, for every four or five reported cases of mesothelioma, one case goes unreported. This is only a conservative estimate and so could be higher.

Co-author of the article, Ken Takashi believes that the findings of the study are extremely important as they highlight “the magnitude of unreported mesothelioma in countries that use asbestos at substantial levels but report no cases of the disease”, such as Russia, China and India. In light of the findings of the study, researchers are recommending that the mining, using and exporting of asbestos be banned in order to prevent the occurrence of mesothelioma.

It is an unfortunate fact that in many countries, asbestos is still mined and exported, despite medical evidence showing a link between asbestos exposure and mesothelioma.

It is not just in countries where asbestos is still used that cases of mesothelioma are going unreported. QualitySolicitors Oliver & Co have come across a number of cases where mesothelioma has been misdiagnosed or omitted from death certificates.

This week, a Client contacted QualitySolicitors Oliver & Co for advice after a Coroner stated her father’s death was due to, among other conditions, lung cancer. The Client had carried out extensive research after her father was diagnosed with mesothelioma and was adamant that this is what had caused her father’s premature death. When she contacted the Coroner to query the cause of death she was shocked by the response. The Coroner did not think that it was important that the cause of death read lung cancer rather than mesothelioma and was reluctant to change the death certificate.

Our Client’s father was taken from his family years before his time having suffered from a terrible condition before his untimely death. Our Client felt that it was extremely important that it was recognised that her father was killed by mesothelioma, caused by exposure to asbestos, and not lung cancer which is most commonly associated with smoking.

It is also vital for national and global statistics that all deaths due to mesothelioma are noted as such.

It is not only after death that mistakes are made in diagnosing or reporting mesothelioma. A man was recently diagnosed with asbestosis and mesothelioma following symptoms of chest pain and unexplained weight loss. He had radical surgery to remove his right lung in the hope that this would slow the disease and increase his life expectancy. Once the lung had been removed and tested, it was found that the lung was healthy and there was no cancer present. Unfortunately, the gentleman passed away five months later having never fully recovered from the surgery after developing a respiratory infection.

Mesothelioma is a difficult condition to diagnose, often being mistaken for other cancers or diseases. Due to the aggressive nature of mesothelioma, quick and correct diagnosis of the condition can be crucial to treatment. Although currently there is no cure for mesothelioma the symptoms can be treated and, if caught early enough, treatments such as chemotherapy can help to treat symptoms, slow progression of the disease, increase a patient’s quality of life and prolong life expectancy.

Action Mesothelioma Day 2011

Each year, Action Mesothelioma Day aims to increase awareness of the condition and calls for improved care and treatment for the patients. The day is held every year on the first Friday of July. QualitySolicitors Oliver & Co will be taking part in events on the day in a bid to help increase awareness. We will be releasing further details regarding this nearer the time.