The website Verywell Health estimates that the percentage of workers who get lung cancer ranges from 13% to 29% in men and approximately 5% for women. One example of occupational exposure to carcinogens that lead to lung cancer is asbestos exposure.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), anywhere from 4% to 12% of all lung cancers relate to asbestos exposure. Heavy exposure to asbestos led to approximately 20%-25% of those workers developing lung cancer. However, it is important to note that other factors also affect the actual risk that a worker will get lung cancer over their lifetimes.
Workers Who Get Lung Cancer
Several different industries expose workers to the highest amount of asbestos. These occupations include the following:
- Construction workers on projects that contain materials manufactured prior to 1980.
- Roofing and flooring workers on projects using supplies still made with asbestos.
- Firefighters who use equipment such as protective gear still made with asbestos or fighting fires in homes containing asbestos.
- Mechanics, trade laborers, chemical workers, and machinery operators.
- Paper, textile, insulation, fireproofing, and gasket manufacturers.
- Power plant workers who continue to work on pipes with asbestos or with fireproofing materials.
- Shipyard workers, specifically veteran and government shipyard workers who worked on ships containing asbestos.
- Boiler workers involved in shipyard projects.
- Mining for asbestos, which ended in 2002; however, workers continue to suffer injuries related to previous work.
- Steel mill workers.
Research published in the journal Clinics in Chest Medicine found that asbestos is not the only workplace carcinogen that causes lung cancer. Diesel exhaust, coal-tar pitch, alpha and gamma radiation, arsenic, cadmium, silica dust, and other chemicals contribute to the percentage of workers who get lung cancer during their lives.
It is nearly impossible to predict whether a person will get lung cancer due to their employment. However, statistics seem to show that workers who have significant exposure to asbestos or other carcinogenic chemicals over long periods also have a higher risk over their lifetime of developing lung cancer or mesothelioma due to their exposure.
Additional Factors Affect Lung Cancer Risk in Workers
Other factors besides simple asbestos exposure ultimately determine whether a worker is at an increased risk of developing lung cancer. These factors include the following:
- The level, frequency, and duration of exposure to asbestos.
- The amount of time that has passed since the asbestos exposure.
- The worker’s age when they suffered exposure to asbestos.
- Their history of tobacco use.
- Their individual health history.
Symptoms of Lung Cancer
Not every worker in the industries mentioned above will develop lung cancer. However, it is critical to note that if you smoke tobacco, your chances of developing lung cancer increase exponentially. According to the journal article, up to 90% of all lung cancer cases in the United States result from smoking tobacco.
Whatever the primary reason behind a lung cancer diagnosis, the symptoms remain similar. The American Cancer Society reports that the most common signs of lung cancer include:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Coughing or wheezing
- Blood in the mucus when coughing
- Unexplained loss of weight
It is important to note that a lot of very minor or benign conditions result from similar symptoms, so the best course of action, if you develop any of these symptoms, would be to visit a medical professional to receive a proper medical evaluation. Additionally, if you currently smoke, you should attempt to quit as soon as possible for your health.
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Diagnosing Lung Cancer
You should visit a medical professional if you have any symptoms of lung cancer. A doctor will examine your medical history and perform a thorough examination, then take into consideration your symptoms before deciding what type of diagnostic testing should occur.
In some cases, a doctor will require either an X-ray or CT scan of your chest. These diagnostic tools can help reveal if any pulmonary (lung) nodules could have qualities that appear malignant, and therefore, cancerous. If a biopsy shows that you have cancer, these tests may also help determine if it spread to other areas of a person’s body. All this information helps a doctor assess the cancer stage, its severity, and a proper course of treatment.
Treatments for Lung Cancer
Treatments for lung cancer have come a long way in the past decade. Depending on the severity of a patient’s lung cancer, they may undergo surgery to remove tumors, radiation or chemotherapy to kill cancer cells and stunt the tumor’s growth, or a combination of all these treatments. Additionally, immunotherapy or targeted therapy can help patients that develop lung cancer.
Learn How an Attorney Can Help
If you are among the percentage of workers who get lung cancer due to your exposure in the workplace of asbestos or talc-containing products, you might want to learn how an attorney at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm can help you fight for compensation. Contact our legal team at (800) 529-9122 to discuss how you can ensure your legal rights remain protected.