Lung cancer caused by asbestos is among the most common types of lung cancer. Research shows that exposure to asbestos causes all major types of lung cancer, including both small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancers, like adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. In addition, asbestos exposure comprises the only known cause of pleural mesothelioma—not lung cancer, but a form of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs and the function of the respiratory system.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 20 to 25 percent of workers who sustained high levels of occupational exposure to asbestos will eventually receive a related lung cancer diagnosis. Between 4 and 12 percent of all cases of lung cancer occur because of asbestos exposure. Smoking cigarettes can greatly increase the risk as well.
Asbestos Exposure May Trigger Lung Cancer
Asbestos exposure, especially in those who smoke or previously smoked, greatly increases the risk of developing lung cancer. When a person inhales asbestos fibers, many of them may travel all the way into the lungs and become stuck in the lung tissue. Some fibers breakdown, but others remain lodged in the tissue. Whether or not they eventually trigger cancer depends on several factors, including:
- How long, how often, and how much asbestos the person inhaled.
- How much time has passed since the asbestos exposure.
- Their age when first exposed to asbestos.
- Their history of tobacco use.
- Other unknown factors.
The higher a person’s cumulative exposure to asbestos, the more their risk increases. In addition, risks increase the more time passes after the first exposure to asbestos, and the younger the person was at their first exposure.
Many people who develop asbestos-related cancer also have other serious medical concerns related to their exposure. Asbestosis, or the scarring of the lungs that occurs because of heavy asbestos exposure, frequently accompanies asbestos-related cancer. People with asbestosis may be more likely to develop asbestos-related lung cancer, although these cancers may also occur without asbestosis.
Identifying Asbestos-Related Lung Cancer
Symptoms rarely show in the earliest stages of lung cancer. Only when a person’s cancer spreads do they begin developing symptoms. Sometimes, their initial symptoms are not alarming, and they may delay seeing their doctor for even longer.
Symptoms of asbestos-related lung cancer may include:
- A persistent cough that does not improve.
- Difficulty breathing.
- Coughing up blood.
By the time symptoms appear and the person sees a doctor, the cancer can spread. To improve life expectancy, patients must receive their diagnosis of asbestos lung cancer as early as possible. Current research points to regular screenings for those at a high risk of lung cancer. Chest X-rays, computerized tomography (CT) scans, and pulmonary function tests may help identify suspicious masses early enough for diagnosis and treatment.
Whether you experience symptoms or your doctor identifies a mass during routine screening, they should take further action to confirm your diagnosis. As a part of identifying your cancer, your doctor may perform a biopsy, which may not only prove the type of lung cancer you have but also uncover asbestos fibers as well. Medical evidence like this makes it easy to tie your cancer back to your asbestos exposure. If there are no asbestos fibers, your doctor may use a scale known as the Helsinki Criteria to determine if asbestos exposure likely caused your lung cancer.
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Talk About Your Diagnosis With Our Team
Asbestos-related lung cancers patients who suffered asbestos exposure have a right to take legal action as a part of the asbestos mass tort. You may be able to file a claim or a lawsuit to recover compensation for your cancer diagnosis. This may include a settlement or award that compensates you for:
- The cost of your treatment and care.
- Other related expenses.
- Your pain and suffering.
You may also be able to pursue compensation if your family member passed away from asbestos-related lung cancer after occupational asbestos exposure or other significant, documented exposure.
Learn more about how an asbestos lung cancer attorney from Pintas & Mullins Law Firm can help when you call for a free case review from a member of our team. We do not shy away from tough cases, and we may help you understand the strength of yours. When we pursue a payout on behalf of our clients, we do not ask for any fees upfront. We only take our fee after we recover financial awards for you.
Call (800) 217-6099 now to discuss your case.