Asbestos exposure can create serious health risks that significantly increase the chances of developing asbestos-related cancers in the future, like the terminal and rare diagnosis of mesothelioma. The type of cancer likely to occur generally corresponds to the source of asbestos exposure and the type of asbestos. For instance, inhaling asbestos fibers has been shown to cause thousands of lung cancer deaths each year.
Mesothelioma: The Leading Asbestos Exposure Health Risk
Mesothelioma is the most notable health consequence of asbestos exposure, likely because it occurs so rarely outside of those exposed to asbestos through inhalation. It typically affects the pleural lining that covers and protects the lungs and can also affect the stomach, heart, and testes.
Since mesothelial tissues are also present in other parts of the body, including the abdomen and stomach, heart, and testes, other types of mesothelioma are technically possible after being exposed to asbestos. For instance, swallowing asbestos can lead to a condition known as peritoneal mesothelioma which affects the abdomen and stomach.
Around 26,500 people died from malignant mesothelioma from 2001 – 2010, an average of just under 3,000 a year. Additionally, around 3,000 people a year are diagnosed with mesothelioma.
Symptoms take 10 to 40 years to develop, and include:
- Extreme chest pain or discomfort
- Shortness of breath
- Coughing up blood
- Loss of appetite
Asbestos-Related Lung Cancer
In addition to cancer of the pleural lining, cancer can develop within the lung tissue itself. The chemical properties of asbestos make its fibers eventually become so tiny that they can interfere with mitosis, the natural duplication of cells. As the lung tissue becomes obstructed by asbestos fibers from inhalation, several forms of lung cancer can develop. The most common types of asbestos-related lung cancers include non-small cell lung cancers like adenocarcinoma or small-cell lung cancers. As the name implies, small cell lung cancers have tumorous growth in tiny clusters of small cells. They spread aggressively and are more difficult to treat.
Non-small cell lung cancers show growth in varying cell sizes, are slower to spread and may be easier to treat depending on the location and the stage of metastization. An estimated 4,800 people die per year of lung cancer as a result of asbestos exposure.
Symptoms take 10 to 40 years to appear, and include:
- Chronic fatigue
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Persistent dry cough
- Weight loss or loss of appetite
Other Asbestos-Related Cancers
Other types of cancers can develop as a result of asbestos exposure. The link between these cancer risks and asbestos exposure may not be as clearly connected as asbestos exposure is to lung cancer or mesothelioma, but the National Cancer Institute still considers them a significant health risk. Swallowing asbestos could lead to gastrointestinal cancers, such as the above-mentioned peritoneal mesothelioma.
Stomach and gastrointestinal cancer risks are especially high among those who could have been exposed to asbestos fibers through drinking water. Asbestos exposure through product use can also create other cancerous conditions, such as the link between talcum powder use on the genitals and an increase in the risk of cervical or ovarian cancers.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a type of mesothelioma that was related to the prolonged exposure to asbestos, contact Mesowatch. Our team understands the importance to get connected with the right asbestos and mesothelioma lawyers that have dedicated their practice with the unique focus on asbestos exposure lawsuits.