London, UK – In what will be a landmark decision, the House of Lords in England is set to debate on the future of mesothelioma and asbestos cancer court cases.
In 2007, the court ruled in a test case that patients with pleural plaques would no longer receive compensation from lawsuits brought against responsible parties. Now, they are set to make a formal decision. Medical experts are trying to show the government that pleural plaques, along with asbestosis and mesothelioma, take a physical and a mental toll on a patient, making them eligible to receive compensation for their disease.
According to the World Health Organization, former long-term asbestos exposure results in nearly 90,000 deaths each year worldwide, and may claim as many as 10 million lives before its use is completely banned. Asbestos is the cause of many life-threatening diseases, including the aggressive cancer mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma is a cancer of the mesothelium, the sensitive tissue lining the lungs and other vital organs. When asbestos particles break down, they become friable and may break away from their original product. Once these particles are inhaled, they can become trapped in the body, particularly in the mesothelium and the lungs. Asbestos fibers can cause cell mutation, which leads to mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases and conditions. In the United States, it is estimated that mesothelioma claims more than 3,000 lives each year, and that number continues to grow. Mesothelioma is a difficult cancer to diagnose, as its symptoms often mimic those of a typical cold or flu virus, pneumonia, or signs of aging.
Activists for the asbestos compensation cause in the UK are encouraging lawmakers in the United States and Canada to look into a compensation program for mesothelioma victims in their countries as well, and hope that the UK’s decision will spark movement around the world.