Asbestos Disease Symposium

Screening, Early Detection and Treatment: The Canadian and Indian Experiences

Sep 11 2012

An asbestos disease symposium will take place on Thursday, September 27, 1:30 - 6:00 pm at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto. Agenda, directions, and RSVP information are noted below.

There is a tragic epidemic of asbestos disease resulting from exposures in the industrialized world from the 1950s - 1980s primarily. The World Health Organization estimates that approximately 107,000 asbestos-related deaths occur annually, mainly lung cancer and mesothelioma (a cancer of the lung lining whose only cause is asbestos).

In Ontario, an estimated 500 new asbestos cancer cases will occur annually for the next 10 years, then gradually tapering off. The fatality curve tracks the exposure curve, but two to three decades delayed due to the long latency of this merciless carcinogen.

This symposium is intended to raise awareness of the extent of asbestos disease and encourage screening, early detection and early referral to our world class treating facilities. Even with mesothelioma, there are some promising developments in treatment, which will be highlighted. Early detection and referral to specialized treatment is vital to improved outcomes for mesothelioma.

The symposium will also draw attention to the current situation in India, where asbestos disease is emerging from more recent exposures. One of India's leading occupational physicians, Dr. TK Joshi, will participate, as will Eric Jonckheere, a Belgian activist who lost his father, mother and two brothers to mesothelioma (his father worked at an asbestos factory and the family lived in company housing nearby).

The symposium is free but those wishing to attend must notify Alex Cohen,  

Time: 1:30 – 6:00 PM
Location: St. Michael’s Hospital - Paul Marshall Lecture Theatre


1:30 – 1:40 pm:  Introduction and session objectives
Alec Farquhar, Director, Office of the Worker Adviser

1:40 - 2:05 pm: The contribution of asbestos to cancer
Dr. Paul Demers – Director, Occupational Cancer Research Centre
Dr. Linn Holness – Director, Centre for Research Expertise in Occupational Disease

  • Current research findings on the contribution of asbestos to cancer
  • The incidence of asbestos cancers in Ontario and Canada 
  • Rates of recognition of asbestos related cancers in Ontario workplace insurance system 
  • Efforts to improve recognition of work-relatedness

2: 05 – 2:50 pm: Screening, early referral and treatment for asbestos related cancer
Dr. Marc de Perrot, University Health Network 

  • Screening for mesothelioma and lung cancer 
  • Early referral to specialized clinics 
  • Advances in treatment for mesothelioma

2:50 – 3:05 pm: The need for an asbestos disease health care network
Dr. Eudice Goldberg, Chair, Canadian Mesothelioma Foundation

3:05 – 3:20: Break

3:20 – 4:00 pm: The Indian perspective
Dr. Tushar Kant Joshi, Director, Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health, Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi, India

  • Current use of asbestos in India and structure of the industry 
  • The nature of worker exposures 
  • Incidence and tracking of asbestos disease 
  • Health care challenges for asbsestos disease victims

4:00 – 4:20 pm: One family’s story
Eric Jonckheere, President, Belgian Society for Asbestos Victims (ABEVA)

4:20 – 4:45 pm: Closing and recognition of Dr. Joshi and Eric Jonckheere
Lyle Hargrove, Interim Managing Director and Chair, Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers

4:45 – 6:00 pm: Reception

PLEASE RSVP TO ALEX COHEN, Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers – 416-510-8713, press 1 for provincial office

Directions to Paul Marshall Lecture Theatre QUEEN Wing, First floor/Ground floor - St. Michael's Hospital, 30 Bond St., Toronto, M5B 1W8

To access the theatre, please use the Queen Street entrance to the hospital (east of Victoria Street). The Paul Marshall theatre is located between Second Cup and Information Desk.