Mesothelioma is a rare but deadly cancer of the lining of the lung and WA has one of the highest rates of new cases in the world.
That’s because asbestos, which is the major cause of the disease, was actually mined in our state and used here extensively in building and construction.
So many West Australians have been exposed to asbestos though their work or home renovations. Many of us might recall helping to build the asbestos shed or garage out the back If you’re a tradie, there’s a good chance you’ve had some exposure too.
It can take 10-50 years for mesothelioma to develop. Even though it’s banned now in building products and mining stopped a while ago, it’s still in our environment, fences and rooves to name a few. The asbestos mining that took place in Wittenoom continues to leave a legacy in WA.
Survival for men diagnosed with mesothelioma is very low, only 3% survive five years. Currently there is no cure. But, for the first time in over a decade there is real hope.
Leading WA researchers, Dr Joost Lesterhuis and Professor Anna Nowak and their research teams, are exploring how combining immunotherapy with chemotherapy might help to improve the chances for survival.
“If the clinical trial shows a positive outcome, it could mean that treatment for mesothelioma might change. And, we may not have to wait long to find out. We expect to have some idea in about two years”, said Dr Lesterhuis.
For anyone who has been exposed to asbestos, this trial could offer real hope.
We are uniquely placed to lead this type of research as mesothelioma is rare and large pharmaceutical companies are reluctant to fund this kind of research.
Your help is urgently needed to fund vital cancer research that could provide a breakthrough.
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