Steve McQueen diagnosed with mesothelioma before death – disease cause

Bullitt – Steve McQueen – £3,000,000 (Car Chase)

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Back in 1947, Steve McQueen served in the US Marine Corps, where he spent time working on board naval ships and shipyards. It’s assumed that the young man (at the time) was exposed to the cancer-causing toxin asbestos, says The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) warns that asbestos exposure “causes around 5,000 deaths every year”.

Asbestos can be “present today in any building built or refurbished before the year 2000”.

The HSE explains: “When materials that contain asbestos are disturbed or damaged, fibres are released into the air.

“When these fibres are inhaled they can cause serious diseases. These diseases will not affect you immediately; they often take a long time to develop.”

Asbestos exposure can lead to mesothelioma, which Steve McQueen was diagnosed with before his death in 1980.

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The NHS clarifies that mesothelioma is “a type of cancer that develops in the lining that covers the outer surface of some of the body’s organs”.

Mainly affecting the lining of the lungs, the disease can affect the lining of the stomach, heart or testicles.

Symptoms of mesothelioma in the lungs:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue (extreme tiredness)
  • A high temperature and sweating, particularly at night
  • A persistent cough
  • Loss of appetite and unexplained weight loss
  • Clubbed (swollen) fingertips.

Symptoms of mesothelioma in the lining of the stomach:

  • Tummy pain or swelling
  • Feeling or being sick
  • Loss of appetite and unexplained weight loss
  • Diarrhoea or constipation.

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“Mesothelioma is almost always caused by exposure to asbestos,” the NHS says.

“Mesothelioma typically develops more than 20 years after exposure to asbestos.”

While the use of asbestos was banned in 1999, there are materials containing asbestos in many older buildings.

The condition is “often diagnosed at an advanced stage”, which means treatment focuses on controlling the symptoms and palliative care.

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Palliative care is another term for “end-of-life care”, whereby people are supported in the last moments of their life.

It’s in these last days when the person affected can share his/her wishes and preferences as to where to spend their final days.

Having a terminal illness can be extremely distressing for the person affected and their loved ones.

Emotional support is available through the healthcare team, who can be there, step by step.

Steve McQueen was flying high in his career, having had hits such as The Great Escape (1963) and The Thomas Crown Affair (1968) under his belt, when cancer grew quietly inside his body.

Donning the nickname The King Of Cool, McQueen was making more movie blockbusters when he was hit with a diagnosis of mesothelioma in December 1979.

Less than a year later, on November 7, 1980, McQueen took his final breath at the age of 50; he was survived by his two children, Chad and Terry.

Steve McQueen starred in The War Lover, which is airing on Film 4, Monday, March 6 at 11am.

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