Asbestos Inhalation Can Cause Lung Cancer

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A doctor examines her mesothelioma patient’s chest x-rayMesothelioma is a serious form of cancer that is linked to asbestos exposure, but it is not the only cancer risk. If you’ve been exposed to asbestos, then you also face a greater risk of developing lung cancer.

Lung cancer is a different disease from mesothelioma. Lung cancer develops in your lung tissue and mesothelioma develops in the lining around the lungs (or other organs). Therefore, lung cancer requires a different treatment plan than mesothelioma, and it is a distinct risk that you need to know about if you or a loved one has been exposed to asbestos.

How Asbestos Causes Lung Cancer

According to the American Cancer Society, there is no safe form of asbestos. Instead, every form of asbestos has been linked to an increased risk of lung cancer. People who have been exposed to asbestos in any way face this increased risk. This includes people who have been exposed to asbestos when:

  • Mining and processing asbestos.
  • Making asbestos products.
  • Installing installation containing asbestos.
  • Demolishing or renovating old buildings containing asbestos.
  • Living with people who work with asbestos.

The risk of lung cancer increases with the amount of asbestos that is inhaled. When a person breathes in asbestos fibers, the fibers may stay in the lung tissue. Over time, the asbestos fibers can cause lung cancer. Asbestos exposure can cause lung cancer in anyone who has been exposed. However, the risk may be greater for people who smoke.

Even if you were exposed to asbestos many years ago, it is important to know about this risk, because lung cancer typically does not develop until at least 15 years after initial asbestos exposure.

Different Types of Lung Cancer Caused by Asbestos Exposure

It is important to report your asbestos exposure to your doctor so that your doctor has all of the relevant information that is needed to make an accurate diagnosis. While routine lung cancer screenings are not currently recommended for the general population, your doctor may recommend lung cancer screenings for you and may recommend testing if you show any symptoms of the disease.

Symptoms of lung cancer may include:

  • Persistent coughing.
  • Coughing up blood.
  • Shortness of breath, hoarseness, or wheezing.
  • Chest pain.
  • Fatigue and loss of appetite.
  • Frequent respiratory infections.

A doctor may use the following tools to diagnose your lung cancer:

  • X rays.
  • CT scans.
  • Biopsy.

Not all lung cancer diagnoses are the same, however. If you’ve been exposed to asbestos, then you may suffer from:

  • Squamous cell carcinoma (non-small cell lung cancer).
  • Adenocarcinoma (non-small cell lung cancer).
  • Large cell carcinoma (non-small cell lung cancer).
  • Small cell lung cancer.

If you have been diagnosed with one of these forms of lung cancer, then the next step is to consider treatment.

Lung Cancer Treatment Options

Lung cancer is treated differently from mesothelioma. Typically, lung cancer tumors grow as individual masses. Accordingly, the following types of treatments may be helpful:

  • Surgery. Surgery may involve the removal of your entire lung, a part of your lung, or a lobe.
  • Chemotherapy. Different chemotherapy drugs are used to treat lung cancer and mesothelioma. There may be multiple chemotherapy drugs available to treat your form of lung cancer.
  • Radiation. Radiation is often not the first choice in lung cancer treatment because of the lungs’ proximity to other vital organs, such as the heart.
  • Other treatments. Treatments such as photodynamic therapy, immunotherapy, and gene therapy may be used to treat your lung cancer. Additionally, clinical trials and alternative medicine options may be discussed with your oncologist.

Your doctor may recommend one of these treatments, or a combination of treatments, depending on the type of lung cancer you have developed, the stage of your lung cancer, and your overall health.

Take Action If You Develop Lung Cancer After Asbestos Exposure

You may be able to take legal action if you can prove that your lung cancer was caused by asbestos exposure. Your doctor can determine if your lung cancer was caused by asbestos exposure if two criteria are met:

  • You have evidence of asbestos exposure because one of the following is true: (1) you have asbestosis; (2) you have a higher than normal amount of asbestos fibers in your lung tissue; or (3) you were exposed to levels of airborne asbestos in amounts equal to or greater than 25 fibers per milliliter of air a year.
  • You developed lung cancer at least 10 years after exposure to asbestos.

If both of these things are true, then you should talk to an experienced asbestos injury lawyer as soon as possible about your legal options. You may be able to make a fair recovery that helps compensate you for your medical costs, lost income, out-of-pocket expenses, and pain and suffering.

To learn more, please contact our experienced legal team today. There are no upfront costs if you decide to hire us. Instead, we work on a contingency fee basis and we will only be paid if your claim is successful.

Richard J. Arsenault
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Recognized by several legal associations, Richard Arsenault has vast experience in complex litigation cases.