It can take between 10 and 40 years for asbestos to cause cancer or asbestos-related lung diseases in individuals with occupational levels of exposure, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
Asbestos-related cancer rarely appears within a few years of exposure. In most cases, it takes decades for asbestos to cause lung cancer.
Those who have a known exposure to asbestos should talk to their doctor about their increased cancer risk, especially if they smoke. Many doctors now recommend regular screenings to try to help identify and diagnose asbestos-related lung cancer earlier.
Decades Pass Between Asbestos Exposure and Cancer Diagnosis
Medical professionals define the time between exposure to a dangerous material and when that material causes problems as the latency period. The latency period for mesothelioma, an asbestos-related cancer, generally spans up to 32 years, although it can be much longer in some cases. This latency period explains why doctors are still diagnosing many cases of asbestos-related cancers today because it takes time for asbestos to cause lung cancer. The United States has tight laws that prevent most occupational asbestos exposure, protecting workers since the 1980s and 1990s.
Many people who later receive a diagnosis of asbestos-related cancer have a history of asbestos exposure as young employees in industries that required them to work in close proximity to asbestos products.
Determining That Cancer Is Asbestos-Related
For employees who left the industry or were unaware of the severity of their exposure, the long latency period can sometimes make it difficult to link this type of cancer to occupational exposure. Doctors, however, often find asbestos fibers in a person’s tissue during a biopsy which they will analyze to understand how long it takes for asbestos to cause lung cancer. A special criteria—the Helsinki criteria—helps doctors attribute cancer to asbestos exposure.
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Most Asbestos-Related Cancers Show No Symptoms in Early Stages
Once asbestos-related cancer begins to grow, it can remain asymptomatic.
Most types of asbestos-related lung cancers, as well as mesothelioma, generally show no symptoms in their earliest stages. The affected person lives unaware that a deadly cancer is growing in their lungs or chest cavity.
The only way to know requires undergoing medical imaging such as a chest X-ray or computerized tomography (CT) scan. These tests would show evidence of the growing and spreading mass.
Due to the lack of symptoms these cancers exhibit until reaching more serious stages and spreading, doctors rarely catch them in a timely manner.
Doctors also rarely recommend surgery as an option to treat these cancers, at least not initially. These cancers have a much better outcome when caught at an early stage because doctors may be able to remove them surgically.
Chemotherapy and radiation therapy usually precede surgery as the first-line treatments for asbestos cancers following diagnosis.
You Could Qualify for Asbestos Cancer Compensation
When major players in the asbestos mass tort began to run out of money and file for bankruptcy in the late 1980s, the courts had the foresight to recognize that the long latency period of asbestos-related cancers meant that newly diagnosed claimants would continue to emerge for several decades.
This prompted the courts to require each bankrupting asbestos company to create a trust fund to continue to compensate victims.
Reuters highlights that many of these trust funds are still in existence today, and you may be eligible for a settlement from one of them
Recoverable losses may include:
- Expenses related to your treatment and care
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Wrongful death, if the victim passes away from their asbestos-related cancer
Regardless of the time allowed to lapse between asbestos exposure and an asbestos-related cancer diagnosis, you may have evidence that supports a case. Science has proven that it takes decades for asbestos to cause lung cancer.
Talk to an Asbestos Cancer Lawyer From Pintas & Mullins Law Firm
At Pintas & Mullins Law Firm, our asbestos cancer attorneys pursue compensation for the victims of asbestos exposure. If you have a history of asbestos exposure and now have an asbestos cancer diagnosis, you may be eligible. We recommend letting our team review your case at no cost to you.
We handle asbestos mass tort cases based on a contingency-fee-basis. You will not need to pay us anything upfront when we take on your case, and you will not owe us any attorneys’ fees unless we receive financial awards for your case.
Call (800) 794-0444 today to get started.