According to a story from BBC, a former employer is paying for a woman’s cancer treatment. 74 year old Pamela Stubberfield of Oxfordshire was diagnosed with mesothelioma. More than 80 percent of cases are caused by exposure to asbestos, and Pamela was exposed to the substance while on the job back in the early 1960s. The agreement is being hailed as the ‘first of its kind.’
Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that develops in the mesothelium, a thin, membrane-like tissue that covers many of the body’s internal organs. The cancer most commonly originates in the linings around the lung or chest wall. Exposure to asbestos is strongly connected to this cancer form, and people who work with asbestos contract mesothelioma at much higher rates than the rest of the population. Even washing the clothing of someone who was exposed to asbestos increases the risk. Genetics and certain viral infections can also be potential risk factors. Mesothelioma can develop anywhere from 20 to over 50 years after asbestos exposure. Symptoms include chest wall pain, shortness of breath, fluid surrounding the lungs, wheezing, and coughing up blood. The cancer can spread to other parts of the body. Prognosis is often poor, with a five year survival of only 7.5%. People with lower stage cancers are more likely to survive. To learn more about this cancer, click here.
While there are previous cases in which people with mesothelioma have received compensation from employers after being exposed to asbestos on the job, it is quite unusual for the company involved to pay for treatment. After all, mesothelioma rarely responds well to treatment in the first place. Chemotherapy is the only treatment that has been proven to improve survival in scientific trials. However, it appears that the treatment that Pamela is received is keeping her alive, at least for now. She claims that she would not be alive without it.
Although the rates of diagnosis have grown in the last few decades, mesothelioma is still a rare form of cancer. Hopefully, as new and more effective treatments are developed for it, more patients will be able to pursue compensation in the form of treatment.