Mesothelioma: the “neglected disease”
The Rare Cancers Australia updated report titled “Just a Little More Time” contains a concise overview of the plight of Australian mesothelioma patients. Unfortunately the outcomes for mesothelioma patients remain poor, with only one treatment currently available on the PBS and relative five year survival of just 5.8%. The average mesothelioma patient is confronted by a life expectancy of 9-12 months which is difficult not only for the patient but also their families, friends and carer/s.
AMAA were fortunate to meet a young mesothelioma patient mid 2015 by the name of Tanya and she shared her fears and anxieties with our members as a young mother of three diagnosed with mesothelioma in her early 40s. Tanya was exposed to asbestos as a young child when her parents did home renovations which resulted in her developing mesothelioma many years later. Unfortunately Tanya died in September 2015 leaving her three young children and husband to comprehend her rapid passing. She was a beautiful person and her aim was to try and effect change to improve the outcomes for patients – hopefully her story in this report gives a voice to victims like her who have died too soon.
The RCA report provides a good statistical overview of the challenges facing mesothelioma patients and the discrepancy in funding for research into asbestos related cancers as opposed to more common cancers. Unfortunately the RCA report suggests that there is a correlation between research expenditure and improvements in overall survival – the rare nature of mesothelioma means that the funding is not as much as it could be and patients life expectancy is not being improved as a result. As the article suggests, mesothelioma is the “neglected disease”.
It is because of these issues confronting mesothelioma patients that AMAA continues to work tirelessly to lobby the government alongside organisations like RCA to raise the awareness of the plight of mesothelioma patients. We appeal to the government and pharmaceutical industry to take all necessary action to alleviate the suffering of mesothelioma patients and provide improved access to emerging treatments and invest more funding into finding better survival outcomes.
There is no justification for the continued persecution of a group of cancer patients who have already fallen victim to corporate greed at the expense of their lives. It is vital that all steps are taken as soon as possible to improve the treatment opportunities and corresponding quality of life of mesothelioma patients.
To continue to “neglect” mesothelioma patients is not only inexcusable. It is a national shame that can be avoided.
To access the RCA Report and to read Tanya’s story, click on the image below or visit https://engonetrca2.blob.core.windows.net/assets/uploads/files/JALMT%202016%20Update%20Report_electronic%20FINAL.pdf