What To Know About Asbestos Related Lung Cancer


While largely attributed to smoking, asbestos is another lung cancer cause that people need to know about. Asbestos is a fiber-shaped mineral used especially during the late 19th and early 20th centuries because of its resistance to heat, fire, chemicals, and electricity. There are two different types: amphibole and serpentine. It has been used in a number of different industries, including mining, milling, building, construction, oilfield and more. Over the years, a relationship between asbestos and a few different diseases, including mesothelioma, have been discovered. Today, it is known as a human carcinogen, or possible cause of cancer, with amphibole forms being the most carcinogenic. In 1935, a link between asbestos and lung cancer was determined. Since these issues were noted, a number of regulations have been implemented to protect people from the detrimental effects of asbestos exposure, specifically those who are consistently exposed to the mineral because of their occupation.

Those at risk include people with regular exposure, whether at home, work, or simply out in the community. Veterans, especially those who were in the Navy, shipyard workers, construction workers, pipe-fitters, and plumbers are just some of the occupations of people at risk. The list, however, is not limited to these individuals. Those who live or work in buildings that contain asbestos, or those exposed to the number of products that were once made using it can also be affected. When someone disturbs asbestos, its microscopic fibers are released into the air, the person subsequently inhales them, and they can get lodged into the person’s lung tissues or their lung’s lining. The damage caused by the lodging may then lead to tumor formation which is how asbestos exposure leads to lung cancer.

The concentration and length of exposure to asbestos are two factors that affect whether a person could contract the disease. It has been estimated that each year a person is exposed to the mineral, their lung cancer risk increases by about four percent, and that 4,800 people die from this type of cancer each year.  While this cancer can affect other organs in just a few months, symptoms and further development occur in the later stages of the disease, which makes it hard to recognize in the early stages. The main symptoms include chest pains and shortness of breath. X-rays are used to test for and diagnose asbestos related lung cancer. If a person does indeed have the disease, there are four stages, and treatment often includes surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. However, treatment for each patient is different.

There are a number of different programs available to help those who may have asbestos related lung cancer. And while no legislation has been enacted to protect these individuals, the Fairness in Asbestos Injury Resolution Act, or FAIR Act, has been introduced to Congress as a national trust fund to help fund compensation for those affected. Also, the EPA works to regulate the public’s exposure to asbestos.