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Nicknamed “psycho”, the only thing that terrifies Stuart Pearce is his cancer scare. Having worked as an electrician in his youth, he may have been exposed to a cancer-inducing toxin.
The West London lad backed an asbestos campaign in 2015, after revealing he could have breathed in the deadly dust.
Stuart recalled: “I was working as an electrician for four-and-a-half years, and it’s chilling to think I could have been exposed to it without knowing.
“Many people today think it’s a thing of the past but it’s not, it’s still there.
“It can be found in walls, ceilings, even floor tiles and guttering – basically in any type of building built before 2000.”
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) confirms that “asbestos kills around 5,000 workers each year”.
“Around 20 tradesman die each week as a result of past exposure,” it continued.
When materials that contain asbestos are disturbed or damaged, toxic fibres are released into the air.
If inhaled, these fibres can lead to mesothelioma – a type of fatal lung cancer.
Stuart continued: “I qualified as an electrician in 1983 and immediately started working for myself.
“I worked in warehouses, industrial estates and boiler rooms so the chances of me not breathing it in are very slim.
“The facts and figures are alarming. The number of asbestos–related deaths in the UK is scary.”
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Workers involved in refurbishment, maintenance and similar trades could be at risk of exposure to asbestos. This includes:
- Heating and ventilation engineers
- Demolition workers
- Carpenters and joiners
- Roofing contractors
- Painters and decorators
- Construction workers
- Fire and burglar alarm installers
- Shop fitters
- Gas fitters
- Computer and data installers
- General maintenance staff eg caretakers
- Telecommunications engineers
- Architects, building surveyors, and other such professionals
- Cable layers
Shockingly, the average life expectancy following mesothelioma diagnosis is up to 21 months.
Mesothelioma.com explained the disease can develop 50 years after initial exposure to asbestos.
Common symptoms include: chest or abdominal pain, shortness of breath, fluid buildup, fatigue, fever, night sweats and weight loss.
A biopsy is the only procedure that can confirm a mesothelioma diagnosis, which can be categorised into four stages:
- This is when the cancer is localised in the pleura – a vital part of the respiratory tract.
- The cancer has spread to a single lung and lymph nodes.
- The tumour is extensive, spreading to the lungs, chest wall, abdomen and chest cavity.
- The cancer as metastasised throughout the chest, abdomen, neck and bones.
Early stages (stage 1 and 2) have the most favourable prognosis (i.e. outlook).
The NHS explained mesothelioma can also affect the lining of the tummy, heart or testicles.
Treatments involved chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and surgery – and draining fluid may be an option.
The NHS identified differences in symptoms depending if mesothelioma takes place in the lining of the lungs to the lining of the stomach.
For the lining of the lungs, you may have a persistent cough and clubbed fingertips.
Mesothelioma in the lining of the stomach includes feeling or being sick, to diarrhoea or constipation.
Both areas of mesothelioma can lead to loss of appetite and unexplained weight loss.
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