PREVENTION AND DETECTION OF ASBESTOSRELATED DISEASES IN FINLAND, pp. 57 - 70
Authors: Matti S. Huuskonen
Abstract: In 2006, the WHO and ILO decided to recommend a worldwide ban on the use of asbestos products, which is opposed by the countries producing those products. Early diagnosis of asbestos-related diseases, and close monitoring of the health of the patients, aims to improve the prognosis of occupational diseases and, at the same time, will secure the patients with the benefits offered by social medicine. About 100,000 people die of asbestos-related diseases throughout the world every year: 60,000 of lung cancer, 30,000 of mesothelioma and 10,000 of asbestosis. The number of asbestos-related cancers is still on the increase in industrial countries and this trend will continue elsewhere in the future. The first occupational diseases caused by asbestos were found more than 100 years ago, and it was known in the 1930s that there was a link between asbestosis and lung cancer. Although a large number of resources have been spent on research into asbestosrelated diseases, not a great deal of progress has been made in the medical prevention and treatment of asbestosis, lung cancer or mesothelioma. Radiological follow-up and monitoring the health of workers who have been exposed to asbestos are opposed by those who require proof from randomized mortality follow-ups before the early detection and treatment of lung-cancer in people without symptoms could be considered ethical. There is, however, some good news that encourages action in this area. The new imaging methods used in the diagnosis of lung cancer have proven far superior to conventional chest X-rays and early diagnosis of incipient, small and operable lesions is possible with low-dose spiral tomography.