Asbestos Exposure and Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer deaths in the U.S., and takes some 200,000 lives every year. While most cases of the disease are the result of tobacco use, asbestos exposure causes lung cancer in a small percentage of victims.

The Link between Asbestos and Lung Cancer

Asbestos has been categorized as a known human carcinogen by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer. A significant amount of research has proven that asbestos exposure can result in lung cancer and mesothelioma. Some studies have also suggested a link between asbestos and other cancers, including gastrointestinal, colorectal cancers, throat, kidney, esophagus and gallbladder cancer.

Asbestos is made up of microscopic fibers that are easily inhaled. When this occurs, the fibers may become embedded in the lungs and respiratory tract. Over time, the embedded fibers can cause the type of Inflammation that promotes the growth of cancer cells.

Factors that affect an individual’s risk for asbestos-related lung cancer include:

  • Dose (how much asbestos an individual was exposed to)
  • Duration of asbestos exposure
  • Size, shape, and chemical makeup of the asbestos fibers.
  • Source of the exposure
  • Individual risk factors, such as smoking and pre-existing lung disease

Those most at risk for asbestos-related lung cancer include workers employed in in shipbuilding, commercial product manufacturing, power plants, and construction prior to 1980. The spouses and children of these individuals are also at risk, as they may have been exposed to asbestos brought home on the clothing of asbestos workers.

Lung Cancer Symptoms

Individuals who were exposed to asbestos should seek medical advice if they experience the following:

  • A cough that does not go away or gets worse
  • Coughing up blood
  • Chest pain that is often worse with deep breathing, coughing, or laughing
  • Hoarseness
  • Unexplained weight loss and loss of appetite
  • Unexplained shortness of breath
  • Feeling tired or weak
  • Bronchitis or pneumonia that doesn’t go away or keeps coming back
  • New onset of wheezing

Lung Cancer vs Mesothelioma

While lung cancer can be caused by asbestos exposure, it differs in significant ways from another asbestos-related cancer called mesothelioma. For example, lung cancer originates in the lung itself, while mesothelioma develops in the lining of the lungs. Lung cancer develops as individual tumors with defined boundaries. Mesothelioma tumors are usually scattered around the lining of the  lung. However, they eventually grow together to form a sheath-like tumor around the organ.

Asbestos exposure is the exclusive cause of mesothelioma. However, the majority of lung cancers in the U.S. are the result of smoking, exposure to second-hand smoke, or environmental exposure to radon gas.

Legal Help for Victims of Asbestos-Related Lung Cancer

Compensation may be available for victims of asbestos-related lung cancer. If you would like to learn more about your legal options, please contact Bernstein Liebhard LLP today at (888) 994-5118.

Last Modified: June 22, 2016

Get the latest news and litigation updates about this case by following us on Facebook. Click the "Like" button below.


Follow Us on Google+ on Facebook on LinkedIn on Twitter on YouTube on Pinterest

Skip to content