What is Asbestos Cancer?

What is Asbestos Cancer?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was found to have significant fire and heat resistant qualities by the early Greeks. They were also aware of the “sickness of the lungs” developed by the slaves responsible for weaving the silky material into cloth. Unfortunately, its long-term effects would become devastating.

The use of asbestos continued through the centuries but became most popular during the Industrial Revolution in the late 1800s. At the turn of the twentieth century, reports indicate that researchers were seeing a high rate of death from lung disease among asbestos miners. Still, asbestos use continued in everything from building insulation to automotive brake shoes and more.

More recently, stricter laws and guidelines regarding the use and removal of asbestos have been instigated but for millions of Americans already exposed to this potentially deadly mineral, the damage may have already been done.

The most common forms of asbestos disease include the following:


Asbestosis is caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibers. The fine asbestos fiber particles travel easily on the air and, when inhaled, can penetrate the body’s tissue not unlike fiber glass sticking your hand. In this case, the fibers enter the lungs causing irritation and inflammation. Over time, this can lead to the development of scar tissue in the small narrow spaces around the airways. The scar tissue can reduce the body’s ability to allow oxygen and carbon monoxide to travel properly through the lungs, thus breathing becomes more difficult. While asbestosis is not a form of cancer, it is a type of lung disease and is only associated with long-term exposure to asbestos.

Lung Cancer

Not all forms of lung cancer are asbestos-related. It is common for people in the early stages of asbestos lung cancer not to show any symptoms. Symptoms to watch for include a persistent cough, hoarseness, chest pain, weight loss and bloody phlegm. Should your doctor suspect asbestos lung cancer, he will need to conduct other tests to confirm his diagnosis before proceeding. It is possible, if detected early enough, for patients to survive asbestos lung cancer provided the treatment is in time.


Malignant, or cancerous, mesothelioma is the most common, yet rare, type of asbestos cancer. Generally, it affects the lungs, but can also form in the abdominal area. Frequently, mesothelioma will involve severe respiratory problems. While it does affect the lungs, however, mesothelioma is not the same thing as lung cancer. Treatment for mesothelioma can range from surgery to chemotherapy to radiation treatments or a combination thereof. Mesothelioma symptoms, as with any of the asbestos-related cancers, can take decades to appear. Generally, the outlook isn’t a positive one but can depend on how early the cancer is detected and how aggressively it is treated.

While asbestos is still manufactured and used today, the guidelines surrounding those areas are much more stringent and now include such things as upgraded ventilation requirements in plants and full-body protective gear when asbestos removal is required. Since, as previously mentioned, detection of asbestos-related symptoms can take 10, 20, even 40 years to appear, there are potentially hundreds of thousands of Americans that are sick and just don’t know it yet.

If you or a loved one has been exposed to high levels of asbestos in the past, your health could still be in danger. Please contact the Baltimore Mesothelioma Lawyers at Parker, Dumler & Kiely, LLP to determine your next step.

Article from articlesbase.com

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