Article from The Comet
National asbestos-related cancer epidemic looms
As an epidemic of asbestos-related cancer looms nationally, hospital bosses are awaiting new guidelines on steps to take after a patient is diagnosed.
Mesothelioma is a fatal cancer of the lining of the lungs, caused by inhaling asbestos fibres.
The use of asbestos is now banned and guidelines on handling the building material have become stricter.
But an epidemic is due from 2011 to 2015 as people exposed to asbestos in the 1960s and 1970s are diagnosed with the disease.
Doctors at the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust diagnose between 10 and 20 patients with mesothelioma every year.
The Trust is currently referring suitable patients - that are willing to take part - for clinical trials and surgical procedures involving new drugs.
A spokesman for the Trust said: "Shortly new guidance is expected, which is likely to recommend that all cases of mesothelioma are discussed in one meeting covering the whole of Hertfordshire and south Bedfordshire - the area of the Mount Vernon Cancer Network.
"This will allow expertise to be developed by a small number of people and ensure that nobody misses out on the right advice.
"The Trust is already engaged with its partners in the local network to make sure that it is ready to implement the new guidance once it is published.
"It is important to remember, however, that until such time as a treatment is found that holds out the possibility of a cure, the aim will be to make sure that patients with mesothelioma have their quality of life enhanced as far as is possible.