A pair of U.K. charities is funding a grant that places the future of mesothelioma care and research in the hands of nurses.
Mesothelioma UK, a charitable trust and resource center based at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester, teamed with asbestos-related disease awareness organization Pat Stone Meso Support to establish a grant worth 25,000 pounds ($32,000).
Funding will support members of the National Lung Cancer Forum for Nurses (NLCFN) with small-scale research projects focused on palliative and supportive care for mesothelioma patients.
The grant caters to nurses rather than oncologists or university researchers, a distinction Mesothelioma UK director of services and consultant nurse Liz Darlison says is important for the future of mesothelioma research.
“It is aimed at encouraging more nurses and enabling them to become research active too,” Darlison told Asbestos.com.
Virtually all nurses working in thoracic oncology in the U.K. are members of the NLCFN, according to Darlison. NLCFN is administering the grant on Mesothelioma UK’s behalf through its Research Interest Group.
NLCFN members must apply for the research grant by March 6, 2017, with studies beginning June 2017.
Nurses Are ‘Front Door’ of Mesothelioma Research
The field of oncology nursing can be challenging and rewarding.
These men and women are often with cancer patients throughout their diagnosis, treatment and recovery much more than doctors and surgeons.
Oncology nurses are often at the bedside of patients during the worst and most intimate moments in their life. They are the ones educating and encouraging patients, as well as communicating with doctors, coordinating care and keeping patients safe.
Nurses who care for mesothelioma patients have an important role. Mesothelioma is a rare, highly aggressive form of cancer that primarily develops in the protective lining of the lungs and abdomen.
There is no absolute cure and many late-stage patients are only eligible for pain relief or palliative treatments instead of potentially curative ones. Palliative treatment options include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and medications.
While finding a cure is a priority for scientists around the world, the NLCFN grant is dedicated for oncology nurses who are “100 percent focused on mesothelioma and independent of any program of education.”
“The aim is to support research that stems from clinical practice,” Darlison said. “Those who apply are working at the ‘front door’ of health care and so will develop proposals embedded in patient need.”
Mesothelioma UK promotes the development of specialist mesothelioma nursing practices and funds 12 specialist nursing posts around the U.K.
Mesothelioma Is a Growing Problem in the UK
The U.K. has long held the world’s highest per capita mesothelioma incidence rate with more than 2,700 people diagnosed each year.
In 2014 — the last year figures are available — a total of 2,567 U.K. residents died from mesothelioma, according to Cancer Research UK.
Since the 1970s, mesothelioma incidence rates increased nearly six-fold in Great Britain, including an increase of 11 percent in the last decade.
Friends and family members of retired science teacher Pat Stone, who died of mesothelioma in November 2014, founded the Pat Stone Meso Support group. Prior to her diagnosis, Stone had a 30-year history of asbestos exposure from asbestos mats and gauze used at her school in Wandsworth, London.
The compensation she received for her illness funded the support group, which aims to promote the awareness and understanding of mesothelioma.
Stone’s husband, Graham, said more U.K. residents die each year from mesothelioma than from traffic fatalities, noting the importance of the partnership with Mesothelioma UK and the NLCFN grant.
“The Pat Stone Meso Support charity is extremely proud to be associated with this opportunity, which has the potential to further the understanding and care of sufferers of this cancer, which now takes the lives of substantially more people than are killed on our roads each year,” Graham Stone said in a statement.
Findings from the NLCFN studies will be disseminated various international and British lung cancer and mesothelioma organizations.
Researchers will later submit their findings for publication in a relevant peer reviewed journal.