Even though it is now illegal to utilise asbestos within construction, there will still be occasions when you work in a building that houses it. Even though asbestos can cause severe illnesses like asbestosis and mesothelioma, when properly trained, it is possible to operate around the substance safely.
However, it is essential to know the symptoms of asbestos-related illnesses so that you can seek medical care and advice swiftly.
What is mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a form of cancer which typically grows in the lining of the outer surface of the organs. The main organ affected by this form of cancer is the lungs; however, it can also impact the heart, stomach and, in men, the testicles.
What is mesothelioma caused by?
In almost all cases of mesothelioma, the cause is related to asbestos exposure. Whether you work for a company that risks exposure to asbestos, or you own a company that does; it is essential that everyone regularly undertakes an asbestos awareness course online to help everyone stay as safe as possible.
Currently, around 2,500 people in the UK die from mesothelioma annually. However, this number should start to decrease following the ban of asbestos within construction in 1999.
Symptoms of this type of cancer are not generally noticeable until several decades down the line. Therefore, if you are working in a role that may lead to exposure to disturbed asbestos, it is highly recommended that you speak to your doctor. They may want to bear this in mind so that they can catch any symptoms as early as possible.
Symptoms of mesothelioma in the lungs include:
- Shortness of breath
- Pain in the chest
- A cough that lasts a considerable amount of time
- Extreme tiredness (fatigue)
- Appetite loss
- Unexplained weight loss
- Fever and sweating, especially at night
- Swollen (clubbed) fingertips
Symptoms of mesothelioma in the stomach include:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Unexplained loss of weight
- Appetite loss
- Pain in the stomach
- Swelling of the stomach
- Constipation or diarrhoea
If you have the symptoms described above, you should speak with your GP. They may refer you for hospital tests, which include:
- CT scan – using multiple images to create a detailed picture of your body
- X-ray – either of your chest or stomach
- Thoracoscopy or Laparoscopy – inserting a camera through a small incision to perform a biopsy (you will be sedated for this)
- Fluid drainage – this will only be done if there is a fluid build-up in your stomach or around your lungs. The removed fluid will be analysed
This will test whether or not you have developed mesothelioma as well as how far it has spread.
Unfortunately, because it takes so long for symptoms of this illness to develop, and mesothelioma can progress quickly once symptoms occur, the prognosis tends not to be great.
What is the life expectancy of a person with mesothelioma?
Around 10% of people who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma will live for a minimum of five years, whereas approximately 50% of individuals with a diagnosis will live a minimum of one year.
Asbestos awareness course online
Quality training around asbestos should be invested in regularly. Whether you invest yourself or via your company; it is essential that you complete a course in asbestos awareness. The HSE recommends that you invest in some sort of refresher course every twelve months; however, you should undertake training sooner if you don’t feel comfortable in your knowledge.