Asbestos Related Diseases and Injuries
When a person breathes asbestos, fibers can become lodged in the lungs. Once there, they can cause scarring. Asbestos fibers can also cause mesothelioma and lung cancer. The knowledge about the effects of asbestos and how it can cause these fatal diseases has been known by many corporations since the 1920’s.
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Mesothelioma (cancer of the mesothelium) is a cancer in which cells of the mesothelium become abnormal and divide without control or order. The tumor can invade and damage nearby tissues and organs. Cancer cells can also metastasize (spread) from their original site to other parts of the body. Most cases of mesothelioma begin in the pleura or peritoneum. It is caused by asbestos exposure, it is not caused by smoking. It can occur 15 to 60 or more years after exposure. Mesothelioma can also occur in the testicles. Mesothelioma can not be cured but can be treated with surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.
Mesothelioma Facts & Figures
- Each year 2,500 to 4,000 patients in the U.S. are diagnosed with mesothelioma and asbestos-related diseases.
- Mesothelioma has a long latency (inactive) period of anywhere between 15 – 60 years.
- Experts predict that mesothelioma diagnoses will continue to increase in the United States for at least another 10 to 20 years.
- While many countries have banned certain forms of asbestos, an estimated 5,000 asbestos-containing products exist today.
- As many as 8 million people in the U.S. have already been exposed to asbestos and it continues to pose a serious threat to workers in certain occupations.
- One study of asbestos insulation workers reported a mesothelioma death rate up to 344 times higher than the general population.
- Poor prognostic variables include: nonepithelial histology, older age (greater than 75 years), pleural primary, chest pain at presentation, poor performance status, and elevated platelet count (greater than 400,000/mcL).
- By the year 2030 there are estimates that asbestos will have caused 60,000 instances of mesothelioma and around 250,000 other cancers that result in death.
- Read more about your legal rights and how to obtain a lawyer in our Legal Help section.
Asbestos can scar the lung and the lining of the lung. This scarring is known as asbestosis or interstitial fibrosis. If enough scarring occurs, it can impair the elasticity of the lungs and hamper their ability to exchange gases. As a result, there is inadequate oxygen intake to the blood. This impairment leads to shortness of breath. Over time, the breathing capacity can diminish and in some cases, become fatal.
Asbestosis, like other asbestos diseases, is a disease of latency — it takes 15 to 60 years after exposure to asbestos for a person to become sick.
There is no known cure for asbestosis.
Asbestos also causes lung cancer. A person who does not smoke can get lung cancer from being to exposed to asbestos. If you smoked in the past or are presently smoking, and have been diagnosed with lung cancer, asbestos may also be a cause of your cancer. For smokers, asbestos and tobacco act together, greatly increasing the risk of lung cancer. The combination of smoking and asbestos can increase the risk of developing lung cancer.
Lung cancer, depending on its severity and the medical history of the individual, may be treated.
Asbestos has also been associated with many other cancers, including cancers of the throat and stomach areas.
- Pleural Plaques