Almost all asbestos cancers are being missed by Spain’s official reporting system, a study has found, raising concerns that frequently terminally ill workers are also missing out on compensation.
A team headed by Alfredo Menéndez-Navarro of the University of Granada looked at the number of reported asbestos-related cancer cases between 1978 and 2011. These cancers were first officially recognised in Spain in 1978, a move that was expected to result in greater recognition and compensation payouts. But, according to the paper in the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health, only 164 cases of asbestos-related cancer were recognised in the 33-year period under scrutiny.
The researchers say this count misses almost all the cancers related to asbestos. For mesothelioma, they estimate 93.6 per cent of cases in men and 99.7 per cent in women are missing. For asbestos related lung cancers, the effect is worse still, with 98.8 per cent of bronchial and lung cancers in men and 100 per cent in women going unrecognised.
The authors conclude it is essential to establish a system for information on and monitoring of asbestos-related cancers – identified as mesothelioma, cancers of the larynx, lungs or ovaries – to ensure for the victims the compensation to which they are entitled. They note the number of people affected in Spain is expected to increase in the coming years.
“These findings provide evidence of gross under-recognition of asbestos-related occupational cancers in Spain,” the paper notes. “Future work should investigate cases treated in the National Healthcare System to better establish the impact of asbestos on health in Spain.”
García-Gómez M, Menéndez-Navarro A, López RC. Asbestos-related occupational cancers compensated under the Spanish National Insurance System, 1978-2011, International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health (IJOEH), volume 21, number 1, pages 31-39, January-March 2015. Eurogip. Risks 693.