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Slater and Gordon has awarded the University of Western Australia a $19,564 grant to help fund research focused on the impact of exercise on asbestos-related cancer, mesothelioma.

The grant is part of the 2017 round of the Health Projects and Research Fund, a philanthropic grants initiative which focuses on improving care and treatment for people with asbestos-related illnesses, occupation caused cancers or with significant disability caused by a catastrophic injury.

Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer that forms in the lining of a person’s lungs, typically between 20 and 40 years after a person has been exposed to asbestos. The median life expectancy after diagnosis with mesothelioma is less than a year, with the cancer more common in men.

Senior Slater and Gordon Asbestos Lawyer Tricia Wong – who every day works with mesothelioma patients and their families – said the law firm was in support of any effort to reduce the impact of what was such a destructive disease.

Ms Wong said mesothelioma was still affecting Australians, even though the use of asbestos in construction and other trades had ceased decades ago.

“I regularly witness the devastating impact that mesothelioma has on a patient and their family – it is a horrible illness,” Ms Wong said.

“We hope this research can make some progress in reducing the impact mesothelioma can have on sufferers.”

University of Western Australia Professor Anna Nowak said the study – which will include input from Edith Cowan University – will investigate if exercise can reduce the growth of a tumour and improve the response to cancer therapy.

“Exercise may have a range of benefits in cancer management, potentially including reduction in tumour growth, improvement of treatment tolerance, and enhancement of treatment effects,” Prof Nowak said.

“There is also substantial epidemiological evidence that exercise can protect from a variety of different cancers.

“There are currently no effective strategies to reduce the risk of mesothelioma in people exposed to asbestos.

“However, the long latency period associated with mesothelioma makes exercise an appropriate intervention to examine for its potential to delay or prevent mesothelioma in individuals with known asbestos exposure.”

Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia Chief Operating Officer Melita Markey said she was in full support of the study, which she hopes will make a real difference for mesothelioma sufferers.

“We’re excited at the prospect of being able to potentially offer people with mesothelioma an opportunity to take advantage of the potential to reduce tumour growth, improve treatment tolerance and enhance treatment effect through an enjoyable activity such as voluntary exercise,” Ms Markey said.

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