Sheffield University to open first-of-its-kind research centre into cancer caused by asbestos

A Yorkshire university is set to launch a first-of-its-kind research centre focussing on mesothelioma, a type of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.
The research will help improve treatment for the deadly conditionThe research will help improve treatment for the deadly condition
The research will help improve treatment for the deadly condition

The pioneering patient-led research at the Mesothelioma UK Research Centre - Sheffield (MURC-S), aims to help health professionals improve the care needed for mesothelioma patients and their families.

The MURC-S is funded by Mesothelioma UK, a national charity dedicated to providing specialist support for patients with mesothelioma, a terminal and aggressive cancer which kills half of patients within a year.

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Co-Director of the MURC, Professor Angela Mary Tod from the University of Sheffield Health Sciences School, said: “Mesothelioma is a devastating disease which is caused by asbestos exposure in an overwhelming number of cases. This means families are often not only having to face the devastating diagnosis, but also the start of a legal battle for compensation, which is an extremely daunting and emotional experience.

“Finding an effective treatment or a cure for the terrible disease is obviously the main priority for researchers and clinicians worldwide, but here in Sheffield we are uniquely focused on patients’ experiences in order to drastically improve the support and care they receive.

“Our groundbreaking work will help to establish the gaps in existing knowledge and also help to identify future research priorities.”

Hannah Ball, Advanced Nurse Practitioner in Lung Cancer and Mesothelioma and Mesothelioma Researcher, said: “Mesothelioma is an unusual cancer and a particularly difficult diagnosis for patients to deal with in that it’s cause is almost entirely due to previous exposure to asbestos, often many years before diagnosis.

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“Learning that there is no known cure and the complex legal and financial issues many patients and their families have to deal with, coupled with the fact that they may have never heard of the disease until their diagnosis, all compound the inherent difficulties that come with a terminal diagnosis. Being a rarer cancer means finding expert support for research is challenging.”

The UK has the highest incidence of mesothelioma in the world, with 2,700 new cases diagnosed each year. Nine out of 10 cases are caused by exposure to asbestos, which was used widely in the UK from the 1930s to the 1970s in buildings and building products such as insulation around pipework and boilers, insulation boards used as partitions or fire breaks, ceiling tiles and corrugated roofing sheets.

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