World Cancer Day 2013

Monday, 4th February 2013 is World Cancer Day. This is a day set aside to raise awareness of cancer and to encourage the prevention, detection and treatment of cancer.

This year’s day focuses on target 5 of the World Cancer Declaration:

“Dispel damaging myths and misconceptions about cancer”

There are events happening all over the world to mark World Cancer Day, from meetings for patients and carers to research conferences and twitter chats. World Cancer Day is focusing on four cancer myths, for more information visit


In a bid to raise awareness and help prevention of asbestos cancer, we are focusing our World Cancer Day efforts on dispelling asbestos and mesothelioma myths:

ASBESTOS IS A THING OF THE PAST – Wrong. The use of all asbestos was only banned in the UK in 2000 and so any building constructed in or before 2000 could contain asbestos. Renovation and demolition works can disturb asbestos, releasing dust and fibres into the air which could then be inhaled.

WETTING ASBESTOS MAKES IT SAFE TO REMOVE – Wrong. Whilst wetting asbestos does make it less likely that dust and fibres will be released into the air it does not make it safe to remove. The safest way to remove asbestos is to consult a qualified, registered asbestos removal firm who will advise on the best way to handle your asbestos.

REMOVING ASBESTOS IS SAFE IF I WEAR A MASK – Wrong.  A respirator mask should always be used when working with asbestos however, this is not the only precaution that should be taken. Only those with the correct training and equipment should attempt to remove asbestos. A respirator mask and protective clothing should be worn, the area should be sealed off to ensure that anyone else in the area cannot be exposed to asbestos and the removed asbestos materials should be disposed of properly.

MESOTHELIOMA ONLY AFFECTS THE ELDERLY – Wrong. Mesothelioma has a latency period from the time of exposure to asbestos of between 10 and 50 years. Therefore many mesothelioma sufferers who were exposed to asbestos in their 20s and 30s do not develop symptoms until they are in their 60s or 70s. However, mesothelioma can affect people at any age, the youngest known sufferer of mesothelioma in the UK was tragically diagnosed at just 13 years of age.

MESOTHELIOMA ONLY AFFECTS THE LUNGS – Wrong. Mesothelioma affects the mesothelial linings which are found in many places in the body. The most common mesothelioma affects the mesothelium surrounding the lungs and the thoracic cavity, this is pleural mesothelioma. The second most common mesothelioma affects the mesothelial layer around the stomach, this is peritoneal mesothelioma. Mesothelioma can also affect the sac covering the heart, pericardial mesothelioma and the mesothelial lining of the scrotum, mesothelioma of the tunica vaginalis.

ONLY THOSE WHO WORKED DIRECTLY WITH ASBESTOS ARE AT RISK OF DEVELOPING MESOTHELIOMA – Wrong. Whilst some people who have worked directly with asbestos have gone on to develop mesothelioma, not everyone who works with asbestos is affected by it. However, there are a number of secondary exposure cases where family members of those who have worked with asbestos have developed mesothelioma. This can be from mothers and wives washing asbestos covered work clothes or children hugging their parents after a day at work.