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.  32 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 Yorkshire, 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 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.

As The Press has reported over the years, many scores of former York Carriageworks employees have died from mesothelioma caused by exposure to asbestos dust at the Holgate Road factory over several decades before its closure in the 1990s.

And, as we reported last year, Richard Green, partner and head of a specialist team of asbestos lawyers at Hugh James Solicitors, said that as time has moved on, he is now seeing more people being diagnosed with mesothelioma who had much more limited, so called ‘low level’ asbestos exposure.

"In particular in recent years we have been instructed by a number of nurses and hospital staff who suffered incidental asbestos exposure working in hospitals, particularly younger individuals," he said.

"Additionally, we have been instructed by a number teachers and former pupils who also suffered low level asbestos exposure in a school setting."

In April 2022, the Work and Pensions Select Committee published a report that highlighted how despite asbestos being banned more than two decades ago, the material remains in around 300,000 non-domestic buildings.

The UK government currently has a diffuse mesothelioma payments scheme to provide people with the cancer compensation.