Study Suppressed Asbestos Illness of Welwyn Man

A new study, in which the affected area of a specific lung-cancer patient’s pleura is removed, has shown promising results in a Welwyn man.


Mesothelioma is a very aggressive cancer, the only known cause of which is asbestos exposure. Asbestos consists of long, thin fibrous crystals and may be mixed with other substances in order to resist heat, electricity and chemical damage. Due to these characteristics, asbestos was used in many buildings and other structures throughout the 1900s. One estimation is that up to 80 percent of all buildings constructed before 1978 had asbestos-containing materials.

James Romain, 78, of Burham Green Road, Welwyn, was a victim of mesothelioma and passed away on January 11. Romain had worked for British Aerospace, helping to make wooden propellers, which was among the list of places Mr. Romain thought he had come in contact with asbestos.

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that can be either malignant or benign. The malignant type of mesothelioma is the most hazardous form of cancer; it advances rapidly and is deadly in all cases. This cancer affects the mesothelium, which protects the heart, stomach, lungs, and other organs by making a special fluid that allows the organs to move.

Romain, a retired aircraft engineer, took part in a medical trial that suppressed the symptoms of his asbestos-related illness for more than a year. He entered the MesoVATs study, in which part of his affected pleura, or part of the lung, was removed.

Hertfordshire coroner Edward Thomas said that Mr. Romain had “no symptoms or very few symptoms for a year and half. It certainly alleviated the condition for a significant period of time.” The coroner also said that the do-it-yourself projects that were done by Mr. Romain in the 1970s were most likely a contributing factor to the contraction of the disease.

Mr. Thomas recorded a verdict of death by industrial disease, caused by malignant mesothelioma. It was reported that he did well during his study for a year and a half.

“Most of his occupations, starting in 1946, had exposure to asbestos. It was a long time ago – not necessarily an extensive exposure but exposure over a period of time.”

This exposure, and the consequent mesothelioma diagnosis, is consistent with other cases of asbestos-related diseases. Many times the diseases do not show symptoms until years, or even decades, after the initial exposure. By this time, the diseases are so far progressed as to be incurable.