Can You Get Lung Cancer from Asbestos Exposure?

Lung x-rays

Lung cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States, with an estimated 238,000 new cases being diagnosed in 2023, according to the American Cancer Society. It's also the leading cause of cancer death.

What some people may not know is that asbestos has been linked to significantly increased risks of lung cancer.

Yes, it’s possible to get lung cancer from asbestos exposure. Sadly, between 8,000 and 10,000 people die each year from asbestos-related lung cancer, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

Throughout most of the 20th century, asbestos was widely used in construction and manufacturing because it was durable and resistant to extreme temperatures.

However, many manufacturers of asbestos-containing products hid the mineral's highly carcinogenic nature in order to profit — all while millions of innocent workers and their families developed serious illnesses, including lung cancer and the aggressive cancer mesothelioma.

There is no safe level of asbestos exposure. If you were exposed to asbestos decades ago and later developed lung cancer, you may still be able to pursue asbestos lung cancer settlements.

Start a free case review now to see if Sokolove Law can help you and your loved ones take legal action.

Get a Free Lung Cancer Case Review

Why Does Asbestos Cause Lung Cancer?

When asbestos-containing products are moved, disturbed, or broken down, the microscopic asbestos fibers can become airborne and dangerous.

If the fibers are inhaled or ingested, they can get stuck inside the lungs and cause inflammation, irritation, and irreversible damage. As scarring and damage progresses, cells can become cancerous eventually causing lung cancer tumors to grow.

Those who were exposed to asbestos regularly and in high amounts are most at risk. Certain industries used asbestos so widely between the 1920s and 1980s. These high-risk occupations include mechanics, construction workers, and U.S. military veterans.

Symptoms can take roughly 20-50 years to appear after initial asbestos exposure.

Not only were workers put at severe risk, their family members were also in danger of developing long-term illnesses through secondhand asbestos exposure.

Asbestos fibers can settle onto the worker’s clothing and then be released into the air at home when they change their clothes or do laundry, exposing their loved ones as well.

Lung Cancer & Smoking

Lung cancer from asbestos may go unreported because some doctors attribute the cancer to a history of smoking, according to EWG.

However, asbestos can amplify the damage from cigarette smoke and dramatically increases the risk of lung cancer in smokers. In fact, asbestos can increase a smoker’s risk of lung cancer by more than 100 times, according to a study in European Respiratory Review.

Even if you smoked regularly and were later diagnosed with lung cancer, mesothelioma, or another asbestos-related cancer, you may still qualify for compensation.

Symptoms of Lung Cancer from Asbestos

Unfortunately, the symptoms of asbestos-related lung cancer can often go undiagnosed for years or even decades.

Many people who were exposed to asbestos on the job or at home decades ago are only now beginning to experience the health consequences of that exposure.

Symptoms of lung cancer from asbestos include:

  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Persistent cough
  • Shortness of breath

If you are experiencing these symptoms and believe you may have been exposed to asbestos, talk with your doctor immediately. Early detection can be critical for extending your asbestos lung cancer life expectancy with treatment.

You may also be eligible for compensation to help pay for treatment if your lung cancer is a result of asbestos exposure. Call (800) 995-1212 now to learn more for free.

Get Help After an Asbestos Lung Cancer Diagnosis

Receiving a lung cancer diagnosis can be confusing and overwhelming, especially since asbestos-product manufacturers knew of the risks but continued to put people in harm's way.

At Sokolove Law, our asbestos lung cancer lawyers are here to support you and your family. Over the last 40+ years, we’ve helped recover billions of dollars for thousands of asbestos exposure victims and their families.

Start your free asbestos lung cancer case review to see if we can help you too.

Sokolove Law Team

Contributing Authors

The Sokolove Law Content Team is made up of writers, editors, and journalists. We work with case managers and attorneys to keep site information up to date and accurate. Our site has a wealth of resources available for victims of wrongdoing and their families.

Last modified: October 30, 2023

  1. American Cancer Society. “Asbestos and Cancer Risk.” Retrieved from: Accessed on May 5, 2023.
  2. American Cancer Society. “Key Statistics for Lung Cancer.” Retrieved from: Accessed on May 5, 2023.
  3. American Cancer Society. “Lung Cancer Survival Rates.” Retrieved from: Accessed on May 5, 2023.
  4. American Lung Association. “Lung Cancer Fact Sheet.” Retrieved from: Accessed on May 5, 2023.
  5. Environmental Working Group Action Fund. “Asbestos kills 12,000-15,000 people per year in the U.S.” Retrieved from: Accessed on May 5, 2023.
  6. European Respiratory Review. “Malignant pleural mesothelioma: history, controversy and future of a manmade epidemic.” Retrieved from: Accessed on May 5, 2023.