New research from the UK has revealed huge gaps in public knowledge of mesothelioma, with near 70% of people surveyed not able to name even one symptom of the disease.

The survey, carried out by compensation group Asbestos Advice Helpline, involved more than 2,000 people aged over 45, who are considered to be a greatest risk from developing the aggressive form of cancer from either primary or secondary exposure to asbestos, because use of the material was banned in 1999. 

Just 17.1% of responders said they could name one symptom of the disease, with the number dropping dramatically - to 6.1% - for those who could identify two. The vast majority - 68.4% - were unable to name just one symptom, highlighting the widespread lack of awareness regarding the disease.

Mesothelioma UK told PharmaTimes Digital that it is “disappointed but not surprised” with the findings. “Mesothelioma is still referred to as a rare disease even though approximately 2,500 people are diagnosed in the UK annually and this number is steadily increasing”, it said.

  

The outlook for patients is pretty bleak, with median survival from diagnosis currently around nine-12 months. As with all cancers, early recognition and diagnosis is key to securing the best prognosis.

As such, the charity stressed the need for greater awareness “particularly amongst those who have had contact with asbestos,” and of its symptoms which include shortness of breath, cough, pain, loss of appetite and weight loss.

“Diagnosis and treatment of mesothelioma is improving and as research improves and increases, new treatments will become available,” it said.