Witcham, UK—An inquest revealed a death of mesothelioma, caused by occupational exposure to asbestos, for a man from Witcham.
Peter Hornsby was 60 years old at the time of his death in July. He had been diagnosed with epithelioid malignant mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer which is almost exclusively linked to asbestos exposure. He may have been exposed to asbestos during his career as a carpenter and cabinet maker.
Asbestos was once widely use in many different capacities, and was considered extremely useful because of its resistance to heat and fire, as well as its durability and strength. It can be added to other substances and lends it qualities to those substances, which can in turn be used for construction materials and consumer goods. Generally considered safe when it remains in place, asbestos can become extremely hazardous when it is disturbed.
Mesothelioma occurs when asbestos-containing materials are disturbed, releasing millions of microscopic fibers into the air. These fibers, which can be soft and curly or long and spiky, can embed themselves into the body’s organs and soft tissues. Particularly vulnerable is the mesothelium, a membrane which protects and surrounds the lungs, heart and stomach, and which also lines the chest and abdominal cavities. When the fibers become lodged in the mesothelium, they can cause the surrounding cells to replicate erratically and become malignant. Eventually, a tumor forms.
Mesothelioma is a particularly devastating form of cancer because it can take years, or even decades, to become apparent. Its symptoms, additionally, are very similar to symptoms of other respiratory conditions, such as emphysema, bronchitis and even influenza, so many patients may not suspect that they have such a serious illness. Doctors, too, often misdiagnose mesothelioma. For all of these reasons, the cancer is usually not discovered until it is inoperable and in very advanced stages.
There are some treatments for mesothelioma, including chemotherapy and radiation, but some patients, especially in the later stages of the disease, choose not to undergo these, but to take pain medication and possibly explore alternative therapies instead.
Hornsby, who died at his home in Westways Place in July, is survived by his wife Sally.+