Asbestos fibers are indestructible, which seemingly made them useful in building and construction. If asbestos fibers become airborne, they can be inhaled and cause inflammation which can lead to cancer. Compensation for asbestos-related cancer may be available. Get a free case review to learn your legal options.
Types of Cancers Caused By Asbestos
Since asbestos 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. Even one single fiber can cause the rare cancer mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases, such as asbestosis or lung disease.
If you were diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease or cancer, you may be eligible to take legal action to pursue financial compensation for your injury. Get a free case evaluation today.
Malignant mesothelioma occurs when asbestos fibers get stuck in the lining of major organs. There are 4 known types of mesothelioma, and all of them are potentially fatal.
- Pleural Mesothelioma: Pleural Mesothelioma is the most common form of mesothelioma. It develops in the lining of the lungs.
- Peritoneal Mesothelioma: Peritoneal mesothelioma develops in the lining of the chest, causing fluid buildup and pain. Comparatively, it has a better treatment outlook than the other types. However, it is still a fatal disease.
- 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, testicular mesothelioma occurs when asbestos fibers can attack the lining of the testes. Doctors are still learning about this form of mesothelioma.
Asbestos Lung Cancer
Asbestos-related lung cancer can occur if asbestos fibers get trapped in your lungs, they can cause long-term inflammation that leads to cancer. The two types of asbestos-related 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 treatment options. There are a few different subtypes based on the shape and size of the cells.
Gastrointestinal cancer refers to a group of different cancers that forms in the digestive system, which includes the:
- Esophagus or throat
- Small intestine
- Large intestine or colon
Asbestos exposure has consistently been linked with gastrointestinal cancers, particularly with cancers of the esophagus, colon, rectum, and stomach.
Studies suggest that oral ingestion or inhalation of asbestos fibers may be responsible for this link to gastrointestinal cancers.
Esophageal cancer (or throat cancer) is a disease in which malignant (cancerous) cells form in the tissues of the throat or esophagus.
Two common types of throat cancer include:
- Laryngeal cancer (cancer cells in the tissue of your larynx or voice box): There’s sufficient evidence tying asbestos exposure to this type of throat cancer.
- Pharyngeal cancer (cancer in the pharynx): Some studies have linked pharyngeal cancer to asbestos exposure, though the evidence is only suggestive and requires further research.
Colon cancer occurs when tumorous growths develop in the colon or large intestine. Studies have suggested that workplace exposure to asbestos is linked to colon cancer.
Though the cause of this link is still relatively unknown, swallowing asbestos fibers — by ingesting asbestos-contaminated water or foods cooked with contaminated water or by coughing up inhaled fibers and then swallowing them — may contribute to an increased risk of colon cancer.
Rectal cancer (also called colorectal cancer) develops when cancerous tumors grow in the rectum, which makes up the last several inches of the large intestines at the end of the digestive tract.
Like colon cancer, an increased risk of rectal cancer is linked to the consumption or ingestion of asbestos fibers, which get caught in the digestive tract after being swallowed.
Stomach cancer is an abnormal growth of cancerous cells that can start in any part of the stomach. Some studies show that exposure to asbestos is linked to a moderately increased risk of this type of gastrointestinal cancer, usually through occupational exposure, drinking asbestos-contaminated water or swallowing asbestos fibers.
Learn More About Your Options
If you or a loved one were diagnosed with an asbestos-related cancer, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Take the first steps toward justice.
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 and resists fire, water, and electricity. There are two main types of asbestos: amphibole and chrysotile.
Since the 1980s, many governments across the globe have discouraged the use of asbestos because a large body of scientific research shows that asbestos can cause people to develop cancer.
For decades, men and women worked to support their families at construction sites, mills, shipyards, plants, and other worksites. These workers never imagined their livelihood would put them at an increased risk of cancer.
Unfortunately, many occupations in the 20th century exposed workers to asbestos products. Decades after the fact, these workers are now getting sick.
Even worse, many companies that manufactured asbestos-containing products knew of the dangers that asbestos posed but chose not to warn anyone. These companies prioritized profits over the safety of their workers and the public.
Their negligence and corporate greed are why thousands of men and women who developed asbestos-related cancer may now be 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.
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How Asbestos Causes Cancer
The truth is: There is no safe level of asbestos exposure, and there never has been.
“Asbestos and all commercial forms of asbestos are known to be human carcinogens based on sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity from studies in humans.”
– National Toxicology Program, Department of Health and Human Services
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 swallowed, they will enter the body and get stuck.
Asbestos fibers can get trapped inside:
- One 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 larynx and ovaries
Sadly, most people who are exposed to asbestos will not notice or feel any health effects at first. This is because asbestos-related diseases often take a few decades to develop. It typically takes between 20-50 years for cancer to develop after someone was first exposed to the carcinogen.
Early on, asbestos fibers will only cause mild irritation and inflammation. The problem lies in how long this inflammation persists. Asbestos fibers cannot be broken down or removed from the human body. As a result, the damage they inflict only worsens over time.
Long-term irritation from asbestos causes scarring, abdominal or chest pain, 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 of developing asbestos-related cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.
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 asbestos 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. However, 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 of developing asbestos-related cancers when they have been exposed to asbestos fibers.
Asbestos Cancer Diagnosis
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 X-rays, imaging tests like CT scans, and biopsies (where samples of tissue are studied) to see if cancerous masses are present.
Even if you are not experiencing symptoms, it is a good idea to see a doctor early on. Make sure to tell them about your asbestos exposure history and other relevant health information. This way, they can take a proactive approach to your care.
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.
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. Asbestos attorneys know how to access these funds. With their help, you may be able to receive compensation. This compensation can help pay for medical treatments and safeguard your family.
Working with an asbestos law firm can:
- Allow you more time to focus on your health and family.
- Keep your family financially secure through mesothelioma compensation.
- Maximize the chances of getting the compensation you may deserve.
When you partner with Sokolove Law, you will work with an asbestos firm that has over 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. You may not get all you deserve if you work with them.
Asbestos Cancer FAQs
Can asbestos cause breast cancer?
According to the National Center for Biotechnology (NCBI), there is a possible link between exposure to asbestos and an elevated risk for carcinoma of the breast, though the extent of this correlation is not yet fully understood.
Some studies have determined that there are higher rates of breast cancer among women who have been exposed to asbestos; however, this link has not been conclusively proven. Researchers are still determining how asbestos can affect breast tissue in both women and men.
Can asbestos cause prostate cancer?
About half of all cases of prostate cancer are hereditary, which means that an increased risk for the disease typically runs in the family. While family history is the strongest risk factor for prostate cancer, other studies have determined additional risk factors to be: ethnicity, diet, environment, and age.
Asbestos is another potential risk factor that has been studied. Though no conclusive results have been produced, many of these studies have shown possible correlations between exposure to asbestos and prostate cancer.
Can asbestos cause colon cancer?
Asbestos exposure is linked to several different types of cancer. Studies suggest that being exposed to asbestos for long periods of time may result in cancers of the throat, stomach, colon, rectum, and ovaries. This link is not yet clear, and it is also unclear how asbestos affects the risk of these cancers. Mesothelioma, a cancer most often related to the lungs, has a stronger link with asbestos exposure.
Can asbestos cause leukemia?
Leukemia is one of the most common occupational cancers, meaning the disease is caused by exposure to cancer-causing substances at work. While mesothelioma – another common occupational cancer – is mainly caused by exposure to asbestos, leukemia is usually linked to exposure to iodizing radiation and chemicals such as benzene, ethylene oxide, and formaldehyde.
However, some studies suggest that workers in industrial settings are at higher risk of contracting leukemia through exposure to asbestos. More research is needed to confirm this link.
How does asbestos cause cancer?
The exact process by which asbestos causes cancer is unknown. Scientists believe the asbestos fibers cause the cellular mutations through physical rather than chemical processes.
When inhaled, asbestos fibers irritate and scar the lungs. The body responds by surrounding the foreign fibers in protective cells. However, the asbestos fibers can cause mutations in these protective cells, causing them to grow out of control.
Though the link between asbestos and cancer is still being researched, the World Health Organization (WHO), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and many other major organizations classify asbestos as a human carcinogen.