Nearly 150 people across York and Scarborough have been diagnosed with an incurable lung cancer linked to asbestos in the last five years – and it’s got a “legacy” in Yorkshire.
A response to a Freedom of Information request from the York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust shows how many people were diagnosed in its area between 2019 and 2023.
Between April and December 2019, 39 people were diagnosed with mesothelioma across the York and Scarborough areas.
Thirty-two people were diagnosed in 2020, 22 in 2021 and 28 in 2022, and from January to August 2023, 21 people were diagnosed with mesothelioma.
The disease is “usually linked to asbestos exposure,” according to the NHS and is often fatal.
“There’s lots of interesting work being done on admission avoidance in certain cancers like lung cancer,” Mesothelioma UK’s clinical nurse specialist, Simon Bolton, said.
“Things have changed quite a bit in lung cancer in recent years, there’s a lot more treatment options.
“People who wouldn’t have accessed treatments now are with fewer side effects and therefore they’re living longer.
“There’s still a high rate of admission because it’s a symptomatic cancer, which is probably a lot different to something like breast cancer for instance.”
Mr Bolton added: “We’ve got the highest incidences of mesothelioma in the world in the UK and that’s because of how we used asbestos mostly in post-war Britain.
“In the Yorkshire region, we’ve got a real asbestos legacy.
“In York, a lot of cases of mesothelioma will have come from people who worked in the carriage works.”
The York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust did not feel able to comment on the numbers it provided.
The NHS website says: “More than 2,700 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year in the UK.
“Most cases are diagnosed in people aged 75 and over, and men are affected more commonly than women.
“Unfortunately, it’s not possible to cure mesothelioma, although treatment can help control the symptoms.”
Mesothelioma UK is calling for the government to create a central register to track asbestos and what condition it is.
It is also asking them to set a timeframe for the safe removal of asbestos, prioritising high-risk settings such as schools and hospitals.