Friday, 4th February 2011 is World Cancer Day.
The Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) and its partner organisations are running campaigns worldwide with a view to raising cancer awareness.
Around the world, over 12.7 million people are diagnosed with cancer every year and 7.6 million people die due to the disease. Unfortunately, these figures are expected to increase each year. However, around 30 to 40% of cancers can be prevented.
Mesothelioma is a rare cancer which affects the protective lining that covers the body’s internal organs. It most commonly occurs in the lungs or abdomen but can also affect the linings of the heart, ovaries and testicles.
Mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos, usually through a person’s work environment, but it can also occur outside, in the air around factories using or producing asbestos products.
Mesothelioma has a lengthy latency period of between 10 and 50 years from the exposure to asbestos to the development of symptoms and only a small number of people who are exposed to asbestos go on to develop mesothelioma. It is impossible to know who will be affected by the disease but as the cause of mesothelioma is known to be exposure to asbestos, the cancer is preventable.
Over 50 countries have imposed some kind of ban on asbestos and in the UK all forms of asbestos were banned in 1999. Shockingly, despite extensive medical evidence linking asbestos and mesothelioma, asbestos is still mined, produced and exported in many countries. Canada, Russia and Brazil are among the main exporters of the deadly mineral, shipping to poorer countries such as India and Indonesia. Exports of asbestos to India continue to rise each year and experts are predicting an epidemic of mesothelioma in the country in the future.
Cancer kills millions of people each year with an estimated 90,000 deaths worldwide due to mesothelioma, asbestos lung cancer and asbestosis. It is important to highlight that these deaths were preventable. More needs to be done to raise awareness of this silent killer and to stop the terrible conditions it causes.
If you would like any further information about World Cancer Day, visit the UICC website www.worldcancercampaign.org