Welcome to Bart's Mesothelioma Research
Bart’s Mesothelioma Research is a group of doctors, nurses and laboratory researchers aiming to improve the treatment and increase our understanding of mesothelioma and lung cancer. Mesothelioma is the main type of cancer caused by asbestos poisoning. Mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses such as lung cancer and pleural plaques are increasing in incidence even though asbestos was little used after 1980. The problem is that there is a delay of between 30 and 50 years from the exposure to asbestos dust and the development of one of the diseases.
Britain is currently facing an epidemic of asbestos-related illness. Unfortunately there is very little research going on into mesothelioma in the UK. Bart’s Mesothelioma Research is aiming to raise the profile of this neglected group of diseases by offering our patients the best possible treatment and by conducting first-rate clinical and laboratory research.
At Bart’s we have one of the largest outpatient clinics in the UK for patients with mesothelioma. Typically our doctors see two or three new patients weekly. We also see a large number of patients who have completed treatment and are being followed up. We take a very positive view of treatment for mesothelioma and our patients are treated as individuals with treatment tailored accordingly. Treatments that we use include chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery. All patients are assessed in detail for symptoms by our team which also includes cancer specialist nurses.
Mesothelioma is cancer of the lung pleura or the abdominal peritoneum. The cancer arises in the membranous coverings of the lungs or bowels. Eventually the membrane becomes thickened and rubbery. Problems with breathlessness, chest pain and cough occur in many patients, though modern treatments can be very effective at abolishing these symptoms. Other symptoms that we see include weight loss, low energy levels and night-time sweating. Surgery to remove the cancer can be done in a few patients but most patients are treated with chemotherapy, radiotherapy and supportive treatments such as painkillers and appetite-boosting tablets. No patient is identical to another and, as discussed above, all patients are treated as individuals.
Research is central to our approach. It is imperative that we learn more about mesothelioma so that we can help current patients as well as patients of the future. What we learn about mesothelioma will help us understand other types of cancer such as breast, bowel and conventional lung cancer. Research at Bart’s takes two forms:
We have a programme of clinical trials which was initiated in the mid 1990s. Treatments pioneered at Bart’s have become accepted around the world. We cannot afford to stop where we are however, and much more progress is needed. We always have clinical trials available for patients. We also offer the standard best available treatments for patients who prefer not to be included in research trials. Some patients prefer a ‘watch-and-wait’ approach and we are supportive of this. Mesothelioma cancers tend to vary in their speed of growth and a period of observation is often very appropriate. Click for details of ongoing clinical trials.
In our laboratory programme we are aiming to understand the biology of malignant mesothelioma. Click for further details of ongoing laboratory research.