A STUDY focused on early detection of mesothelioma is taking place in Barrow to help tackle high death rates of the asbestos-related cancer.
Mesothelioma is a rare cancer that most commonly occurs in the lining of the lung (pleura). It can also occur in the lining of the abdomen or the lining of the heart.
The main symptoms are shortness of breath, chest pain, cough and tiredness. The major contributing factor to developing mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos.
More than 2,500 people nationally died of a cancer linked to asbestos in a year, an increase of six per cent, latest Government figures reveal.
Earlier this year, the Health and Safety Executive published its latest report into asbestos-related mesothelioma cancer deaths in Great Britain with northern areas, including Barrow, still dominating mortality rates for men and women.
READ MORE: Barrow has highest rate of deaths from asbestos-related cancer, new figures show
The report on Mesothelioma Mortality in Great Britain: 1968-2020 shows there were 2,544 deaths from mesothelioma in 2020, up six per cent on the 2019 figures.
According to the HSE, a total of 2,085 men and 459 women died from mesothelioma in 2020, up six per cent and seven per cent respectively.
Barrow, with 411, topped the local authority areas where the most men died based on standard mortality rates.
In other words an average adult in Barrow had a 400 per cent greater chance of dying of mesothelioma over the whole period than an average adult across the whole UK.
Meso-ORIGINS is a Cancer Research UK funded study focussed on early detection of mesothelioma.
The study, led by led by Professor Kevin Blyth at the University of Glasgow, is running locally at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust via the Royal Lancaster and Furness General Sites.
The project will help to develop new tests in the hope of detecting mesothelioma sooner to prolong life and improve symptoms.
A spokeswoman for Meso-ORIGINS said: “As mesothelioma is a rare cancer, it is not as well understood as some other more common cancers.
“Mesothelioma research projects allow us to develop new tests with the hope that we can detect mesothelioma sooner, and new and more effective treatments that could prolong life and improve symptoms.”
Meso-ORIGINS is looking to recruit participants with benign (non-cancerous) pleural inflammation and asbestos exposure.
“These participants will be followed for two years, in parallel with their routine clinical visits, and monitored for evidence of any mesothelioma evolution,” a spokeswoman said.
“The aim is to generate a large cohort of asbestos-exposed patients with benign pleural inflammation and compare these with samples where mesothelioma has evolved. These samples will be used to define the biology driving mesothelioma evolution and define potential new drug targets.
“Meso-ORIGINS is part of a bigger project called PREDICT-Meso and by the end of the five-year program we aim to have drug-target combinations ready for human trials.
“Due to the nature of this study (observational with sample collection), the findings unfortunately will not directly benefit those participating.
“However, it may help some patients find out more about their condition as taking part in research often involves closer monitoring.
“The main benefit of this study to the Barrow community is that the study will contribute to greater understanding of mesothelioma, adding to existing knowledge on the condition that could help future patients and their families.”
A spokesman for University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust said: “The legacy of asbestos use in the proud shipbuilding industry of Barrow and awareness of asbestos related lung disease in the Morecambe Bay area is very relevant to this research study.
“The trust welcomes the opportunity to collaborate with leading academic partners and bring high quality clinical research to the local population.”
If you’re interested in finding out more about the study, please contact PREDICT-Meso@glasgow.ac.uk