Inhaling or swallowing asbestos fibers can cause lung cancer and mesothelioma. Studies on asbestos and cancer risk have also linked asbestos exposure to cancer of the larynx, ovaries, throat, stomach, rectum, and colon.
Conditions related to asbestos inhalation or ingestion can remain dormant for more than 10 years before symptoms arise.
Because of its heat-resistant qualities, asbestos was a common material used in the construction of many homes and commercial buildings before the late 1980s. When asbestos is inhaled, it can break down naturally inside the body or be expelled through phlegm. However, sometimes asbestos fibers can lodge deep inside the lungs and create uncontrolled cell growth in the mesothelium. Over the course of a few decades, this irritation can eventually lead to mesothelioma or another asbestos-related cancer.
Studies have shown that inhaling asbestos increases your risk of developing lung cancer with heightened risk if you are a smoker. As a whole, studies have found that the greater the exposure to asbestos, the higher the risk of developing lung cancer. Most workers who have been exposed to asbestos do not develop lung cancer until at least 10 years after their initial exposure.
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that has been closely linked to asbestos inhalation. In fact, eight out of 10 people who have mesothelioma were exposed to asbestos at some point in their lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society. This cancer occurs in the thin layer of tissue that covers the internal organs in the chest. Pleural mesothelioma specifically impacts the layer of tissue that surrounds the lungs. People who have mesothelioma experience chest pain, shortness of breath, and painful coughing. Pleural mesothelioma accounts for nearly 75% of all mesothelioma cases.
Another type of cancer that can develop is peritoneal mesothelioma, which occurs in the abdomen. This is a fairly uncommon type of illness where patients can expect a life expectancy of under a year following diagnosis.
Other Types of Cancer
There are other types of cancer that have been linked to asbestos exposure, although not much is understood about why asbestos causes these conditions.
The other types are cancers can affect the:
How early these conditions are diagnosed plays a key role in determining prognosis and the appropriate course of treatment.
Symptoms of Asbestos-Related Cancer
If you have a history of asbestos exposure, you should receive regular exams from your physician to monitor your condition for any changes in your health.
According to the National Cancer Institute, symptoms of asbestos-related cancer include:
- Shortness of breath, wheezing, or hoarseness
- Coughing up blood
- Swelling in the neck or face
- Unexplained weight loss
- Pain or tightness in the chest
- Being unable to inhale deeply
Because these symptoms are often mistaken for other illnesses, it is important to speak with your physician if you have a history of potential asbestos exposure.
Some of the occupational fields that exposed their workers to asbestos include those who worked in shipyards or the construction industry. Giving your doctor a full background of your work and health history can help them monitor any signs of disease.
For a free legal consultation, call (800) 217-6099
Diagnosing Asbestos-Related Cancers
When testing for the presence of an asbestos-related cancer, medical professionals will perform a variety of tests before diagnosing a patient.
Some of these methods include:
- Imaging tests: This usually includes chest X-rays and computed tomography (CT) scans that allow the physician to look inside the body for tumors.
- Cancer biopsies: The physician can conduct different types of procedures, such as a bronchoscopy or thoracentesis, to collect samples for testing. These are used to diagnose lung cancer, mesothelioma, and other types of cancers.
- Blood tests: The physician may also conduct a blood test to look for abnormal blood cell counts.
The five-year survival rate for patients with asbestos-related cancers depends on how much the disease has spread. If the cancer has remained localized, meaning that it has not advanced to other parts of the body, the five-year survival rate is on average about 7.5%. If the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, the five-year survival rate is significantly reduced, hovering just around 1%.
You can Pursue Compensation for Your Cancer Diagnosis
If you have developed a health condition related to asbestos exposure, you may be able to join one of the largest mass torts in history.
In the late 1980s, many corporations that manufactured asbestos filed for bankruptcy after thousands of people began filing claims after developing cancer or asbestosis from their products. Bankruptcy courts ordered that these now defunct businesses set up trust funds to cover the cost of the claims that were sure to follow in the upcoming decades. In a study from the RAND Corporation, these companies have paid out billions of dollars to claimants.
After receiving an asbestos-related cancer diagnosis, you may be able to pursue compensation from one of these trust funds. At Pintas & Mullins Law Firm, we do not shy away from even the toughest of cases. We believe that the company responsible for the development of your asbestos-related condition should pay for your medical expenses and other losses.
If you or someone you love is suffering because of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, we can help guide you through the legal proceedings. For a free, no-risk review of your case, contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 794-0444.