The link between asbestos and cancer has been known for decades. Asbestos fibers are indestructible, which seemingly made them great for use in building and construction. Unfortunately, if these fibers get in the air, humans can breathe them in. The fibers can’t be broken down by the body, and go on to slowly damage the body and may eventually cause cancer.
The Link Between Asbestos and Cancer
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that has been in commercial use for over 100 years. Asbestos was used to build houses, ships, and other products because it is very durable. It resists fire, water, electricity, and sound.
Since the 1980s, however, many governments across the globe have discouraged the use of asbestos, because a large body of scientific research supports the fact that asbestos can cause people to develop cancer.
For decades, men and women worked tirelessly to support their families at construction sites, mills, shipyards, plants, and other worksites. These workers never imagined their livelihood would put them at risk of cancer. Unfortunately, many labor jobs in the 20th century were based around asbestos products. Decades after the fact, these workers are now getting sick.
What’s worse, many companies that manufactured asbestos-containing products knew of the dangers that asbestos posed, but chose not to warn anyone, prioritizing profits over the safety of their workers and American consumers.
Their negligence and corporate greed are why thousands of men and women who were injured by asbestos are now potentially eligible for compensation. Fortunately, Sokolove Law attorneys specialize in asbestos-related cancer cases. If your cancer is linked to asbestos, we can begin your free case evaluation today.
How Asbestos Causes Cancer
The truth is: There is no safe level of asbestos exposure, and never has been.
When a person is exposed to asbestos fibers, as when an asbestos-containing product or material is broken, disturbed, or destroyed, asbestos fibers are released into the air around them. If these fibers are breathed in or ingested, they will enter the body and get stuck.
Since asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that is incredibly durable, it is not possible for the body to break its fibers down. This means the fibers will not leave a person’s body once they enter. All it takes is 1 single fiber to develop mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases.
Asbestos fibers usually get trapped inside:
- 1 or both lungs
- The protective lining of the lungs (the pleura)
- The chest wall or protective abdominal lining
- The heart’s protective lining
- Other areas of the body, including the testes and ovaries
Sadly, most people who are exposed to asbestos will not be able to notice or feel any health effects at first. This is because asbestos-related diseases gradually develop, often over a series of decades. In fact, it typically takes between 20 to 50 years for cancer to develop after someone was first exposed.
Early on, asbestos fibers will only cause mild irritation and subtle inflammation. The problem lies in how long this inflammation persists. Since asbestos fibers cannot be easily broken down and removed from the human body, the damage they inflict only worsens over time.
Long-term irritation from asbestos causes complications such as scarring and fluid buildup in the affected areas. Eventually, this damage causes cells to mutate and grow at an out-of-control rate.
The longer you worked at a job where asbestos was present, the greater your risk is of developing asbestos-related cancer.
Types of Cancer Caused By Asbestos
Asbestos can cause different types of cancer to develop. The type of cancer that develops depends on where the asbestos fibers lodge themselves inside of someone’s body.
Asbestos can cause:
- Mesothelioma: Mesothelioma occurs when asbestos fibers get stuck in the lining of major organs. Presently, there are 4 known types of mesothelioma, and all of them are fatal.
- Pleural Mesothelioma: This is the most common form of mesothelioma. It develops in the lining of the lungs.
- Peritoneal Mesothelioma: This form of mesothelioma develops in the lining of the chest, causing fluid buildup and pain. Comparatively, it has a better treatment outlook than the other types, though not by much.
- Pericardial Mesothelioma: Pericardial mesothelioma forms around the lining of the heart, making it hard to treat properly. This is a very rare form of mesothelioma and is extremely deadly.
- Testicular Mesothelioma: In very rare cases, asbestos fibers can attack the lining of the testes. Doctors are still learning about this form of mesothelioma.
- Lung Cancer: If asbestos fibers get trapped in your lungs, they can cause long-term inflammation that leads to cancer. The two types of lung cancer are classified by cell type.
- Small Cell Lung Cancer: This form of lung cancer is more aggressive, but it also responds better to treatment. Only 10-15% of all lung cancer cases are of small cell lung cancer.
- Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer: Non-small cell lung cancer makes up 85-90% of all lung cancer. This form of lung cancer doesn’t grow as fast. However, it is less responsive to current treatments. There are a few different subtypes based on the shape and size of the cells.
- Other Cancers: Asbestos fibers may settle in other areas of the body. For example, a person may cough up asbestos fibers that are stuck in their lungs. If they accidentally swallow the fibers, they can settle in other areas. Cancer of the larynx, ovaries, and testes has also been linked to asbestos particles.
There is no way to cure any form of cancer caused by asbestos exposure. However, if caught early on, treatments can help control the spread of tumors and reduce cancer-related symptoms.
Other Asbestos Cancer Risk Factors
Simply being exposed to asbestos is only one part of a much larger issue. While anyone who has been exposed to asbestos is at risk of developing cancer, some factors increase your risk.
These factors include:
- Repeated exposure: Statistically speaking, people who regularly came into contact with asbestos fibers are at a higher risk of developing cancer. Repeated exposure typically comes from working at a certain kind of job site, but it may also come from a school or home. The greatest risk is for those who were regularly exposed over several months or years.
- Tobacco, Alcohol, and Drug Use: Though not direct causes of asbestos-related cancers, tobacco and drug use, smoking, and drinking alcohol, can increase a person’s odds for developing asbestos-related cancers when they have been exposed to asbestos fibers.
How Asbestos Cancer Is Diagnosed
In many cases, asbestos-related cancer may not be detected by doctors right away. This is because the cancers associated with mesothelioma may mimic other, more common illnesses. This can lead to serious health complications, as you may be treated for an illness you may or may not have.
Doctors will use standard imaging tests and biopsies (where samples of tissue are studied) to see if cancerous masses are present.
If you’re concerned about your health, here are some steps you should take:
- See a doctor early: Even if you aren’t experiencing symptoms, it’s a good idea to see a doctor early on. Make sure to tell them about your asbestos exposure history. This way, they can take a proactive approach to your healthcare.
- Seek help from an asbestos law firm: If you have been recently diagnosed with asbestos-related cancer, an asbestos law firm can be an excellent resource. Asbestos companies have been ordered to set aside billions of dollars for those they have wronged. With the help of attorneys who know how to access these funds, you may be able to help pay for your medical treatments and safeguard your family.
Legal Help for Asbestos Cancer
If you or someone you love has developed cancer from asbestos, the time to act is now. Because asbestos-related cancers sneak up on those affected, many families are not able to prepare for the costs of treatments, medications, and surgeries that follow a diagnosis.
Working with an asbestos law firm can allow you more time to focus on your health and family, as well as offer you the opportunity to keep your family secure through mesothelioma compensation. Asbestos law firms employ attorneys who know how to maximize the chances of getting compensation to which you may be eligible.
When you partner with Sokolove Law, you’ll be working with an asbestos firm that has more than 40 years of experience handling asbestos cancer claims. We do all of the heavy legal lifting so you can focus on the important things in life.
It is very important you work with a law firm that specializes in asbestos cases. General law firms will not have the legal insight to properly manage your case, and you could lose money as a result.
To get started, call (800) 647-3434 or fill out our brief contact form. The Nurse Case Managers at Sokolove Law can answer your asbestos-related questions and put you in contact with a lawyer if necessary.