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On mesothelioma action day campaigners demand research into asbestos cancers set to claim 60,000 lives in next three decades

HEALTH campaigners will mark National Action Day on Mesothelioma today by ramping up their fight for funds to research into the fatal asbestos-related cancer.

Latest figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed a shocking rise in the number of fatalities from the disease in Britain, which has the highest rates of mesothelioma in the world.

The HSE said that 2,535 people died from mesothelioma in 2012, an increase from 2,291 in 2011.

And the disease is expected to kill around 60,000 people over the next 30 years unless new treatments are found.

But campaigners say that investment in mesothelioma research has long been dwarfed by amounts invested in cancers that kill similar numbers of people, such as skin cancer and myeloma.

Asbestos was used widely in construction industry up until the 1970s. 

One of the major difficulties for those who contract the disease is establishing when and where they were exposed to the deadly fibres due to the length of time symptoms can remain dormant.

Greater Manchester Asbestos Victims Support Group spokesman Graham Dring told the Star the group often came across victims who were diagnosed with mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos 60 years previously.

Following a lengthy campaign the government has now established a compensation scheme for those unable to establish liability. 

But campaigners argue that the scheme, which caps compensation at 80 per cent and only applies to those diagnosed with the disease after 2012, does not go far enough.

Mr Dring said the new figures were “shocking” and urged greater government action on the issue.

“New cases of mesothelioma in Greater Manchester are increasing year on year,” he said.

“It is vital that the government commits research funding to give some hope to sufferers, most of whom contracted this disease simply by going to work.”

Malcolm Yates, a mesothelioma patient from Blackrod, said: “One of the worst aspects of being diagnosed with mesothelioma was the despair of knowing that there were no treatments available. 

“It just left us feeling so hopeless. We desperately need more funding for mesothelioma research, so that families can hope for a future.”

And construction union Ucatt general secretary Steve Murphy said: “This large increase in mesothelioma deaths demonstrates the continuing dangers of asbestos. 

“It is essential that today on Mesothelioma Day and in the future far more pressure is applied to politicians to ensure that training is improved for workers and that far greater funding is provided for treating and curing this terrible disease.”

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