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July 14, 2009 -- Less than half of the asbestos workers in Canada diagnosed with mesothelioma file claims for workers’ compensation, even though most of those who do file receive compensation, according to a Canadian study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.
Canadian medical researchers studied all mesothelioma cases that occurred in Alberta between 1980 and 2004. They found that only 42 percent of patients filed claims, even though most of the claims that were filed (83 percent) were accepted.
All of the patients had a confirmed diagnosis of mesothelioma in the Alberta Cancer Registry, yet only 42 percent of the workers’ compensation claims listed mesothelioma as the diagnosis. The rest of the claims listed other diagnoses, such as asbestosis (a lung disease caused by inhaling asbestos fibers) or neoplasms (abnormal cells).
The study found that males were more likely than females to file claims (males also face a much higher rate of mesothelioma in general), and patients under age 70 were more likely to file than those over age 70.
Mesothelioma is a type of lung cancer associated with occupational asbestos exposure. Up to 40 years can elapse between the time when a worker is exposed to asbestos and when he or she is diagnosed with mesothelioma. Researchers said this could be one reason why few mesothelioma patients in Canada actually file claims.
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