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New hope for asbestosis sufferers

PUBLISHED: 22:58 13 August 2002 | UPDATED: 12:28 03 March 2010

SUFFOLK asbestosis sufferers' lives could be made easier by a new drug combination which can double their life expectancy according to research published today .

SUFFOLK asbestosis sufferers' lives could be made easier by a new drug combination which can double their life expectancy according to research published today.

Around 1,700 people each year in the UK are affected by asbestos-related mesothelioma, which is a cancer of the membranes inside the chest and outside the lungs. Victims are left struggling to breathe and in great pain.

Scientists behind the breakthrough stressed they had not found a cure, but said their treatment improved the quality of life for sufferers and made breathing easier.

Mesothelioma is difficult to treat, not very responsive to radiotherapy, and is usually inoperable. A patient treated with the traditional anti-cancer drugs could expect typically to live between six and eight months.

But research carried out at Newcastle University has found patients treated with a new drug combination have survived for around 13 to 14 months and in a handful of cases, for three years or more.

Scientists developed a combination of pemetrexed and carboplatin in collaboration with drug company, Eli Lilley.

It is hoped that patients will be able to receive the new drug combination by the end of the year.

Helen Bocking, of the Asbestos Related Industrial Diseases Association which helps sufferers in Suffolk and Norfolk, said: "If it can help give a better quality of life, then that is fantastic."

"I do not think they will ever find a cure, but if it helps with breathing that is very good because breathing can become very difficult for sufferers. It is a very distressing disease."

A helpline number is available for sufferers, on 01603 401930.

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