Photo: Getty Images
New research conducted by the University of Sheffield into the incidence and experience of mesothelioma among UK armed forces has identified how care and support can be improved.
Funded by national cancer charity, Mesothelioma UK, the Military Experiences of Mesothelioma Study (MiMES) aims to explore the prevalence of the asbestos-related cancer - mesothelioma - among British armed forces veterans, to understand their experience and health/support needs, and to identify how health and legal professionals, and support agencies can best meet the needs of this group.
Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that affects the mesothelium. The mesothelium is a thin membrane that lines the inner surface of the chest wall (the pleura), the abdomen (the peritoneum), and the testicles. Exposure to asbestos is responsible for nine out of ten mesothelioma cases. Mesothelioma is a terminal disease, with 50 percent of those diagnosed dying within 12 months.
2,700 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed in the UK each year and while the incidence among UK military veterans remains unknown, eight veterans per month claim war pensions due to a diagnosis of mesothelioma.
Quantitative data was gathered to generate statistics and interviews were carried out with veterans living with mesothelioma to identify common experiences and needs.
Angela Tod, Professor of Older People and Care at the University of Sheffield’s Health Sciences School, said: “Research like this is vital if we are to provide all those living with mesothelioma with equitable access to first-class care and treatment.
“We’re grateful to everyone who took part and are pleased that the findings will be used as an educational resource for professionals working with veterans with mesothelioma.”
The report identified the following key messages for healthcare and legal professionals, and other support agencies:
Head of Services for Mesothelioma UK, Liz Darlison, commented: “This study was part of Mesothelioma UK’s Supporting Our Armed Forces project. Armed forces personnel often have very different experiences and needs to civilians and it is important that the health and legal professionals supporting them are aware of this, so that they can provide the most effective help possible. We were delighted to support this research and are confident that the findings will lead to an improvement in support for this group of patients.”