Renewed calls have been made for further funding from the Government for the treatment of asbestos related disease, mesothelioma.

Wallsend widow Chris Knighton, who founded the Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund and lawyers, Thompsons Solicitors have made the call after a new study found mesothelioma was the UK’s third fastest increasing cancer.

The study by Cancer Research UK and and the UK Association of Cancer Registries (UKACR) looked at cancer figures over the last 10 years.

It found that incidences of mesothelioma, caused by exposure to asbestos, have risen by 31% in men and by 38% in women from 1995 to 2004.

The figure for the number of people diagnosed with mesothelioma is not expected to peak until between 2010 and 2015.

The study also found the two most rapidly increasing cancer incidence rates were for malignant melanoma and prostate cancer.

Exposure to Asbestos

There is no cure for mesothelioma, which is caused by exposure to asbestos. More than 2,000 people every year are diagnosed with the disease, which often leaves sufferers with a life expectancy of just months.

In June the chemotherapy drug Alimta became the only licensed drug available on the NHS to treat mesothelioma patients following a two-year campaign supported by Chris and Thompsons Solicitors.

Chris, who has raised almost £300,000 for research into the disease after founding the Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund following the death of her husband, said: "These figures really hit home how serious a problem mesothelioma is. The research puts mesothelioma in the same category as malignant melanoma, prostate cancer and liver cancer. They are the fastest growing cancers in the UK.

"However those suffering from mesothelioma cannot do anything to avoid the onset of the disease. They were exposed to cancer-causing asbestos without being told about the dangers.

"The Government now needs to fund further research into mesothelioma to find ways to treat the disease and perhaps eventually to cure it."

Thompsons Solicitors represent mesothelioma sufferers and their families across the UK.

Head of Asbestos Policy

Head of asbestos policy at Thompsons Solicitors Ian McFall said: "These new figures only reiterate what we already knew, that the number of people affected by asbestos-related disease is set to rise in the future.

"This underlines the importance of preventing exposure to asbestos and the urgent need for further research into developing better methods of treatment for mesothelioma"

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