Monday, February 4, 2019, was World Cancer Day and around the world, communities held seminars, festivals, and walks to promote and raise awareness about an illness that affects millions of people each year. During World Cancer Day, communities educate people about cancer risks, signs and symptoms, and available treatments and support. Risk factors for cancer can range from unhealthy lifestyles, to genetic factors, to hazardous exposures, like asbestos.
Cancers Linked to Asbestos Exposure
Lung cancer was the first cancer linked with asbestos exposure and affects thousands of Americans each year. Airborne asbestos fibers are easy to inhale and can become trapped inside the lung. As the fibers work themselves deeper into the tissue of the lungs, the infected areas become inflamed and scarring occurs (fibrosis known as asbestosis). Studies found that the risk of lung cancer in relation to asbestos exposure varies due to the length of exposure, the industry worked, and the type of asbestos used. Often, asbestos-related cancer victims also suffer from asbestosis, a scarring of the lung tissue caused by asbestos exposure. About one in seven people with asbestosis will eventually develop lung cancer.
Perhaps the most well-known cancer linked to asbestos exposure is mesothelioma – a rare disease that is found in the lining (the mesothelium) of the heart, lungs, abdomen, or the internal reproductive organs. Statistically, mesothelioma is rare, with only about 3,000 Americans diagnosed each year. The latency period between the first exposure to asbestos and the time of diagnosis can be decades, so often times by the time mesothelioma is discovered it is already in the advanced stages.
There are different types of mesothelioma based upon the organ in which the disease occurs. Pleural mesothelioma, which is the most common type, affects the lining of the lungs and chest cavity. Peritoneal mesothelioma refers to the cancer in the abdominal lining; pericardial, the lining of the heart; and testicular mesothelioma/ mesothelioma of the uterine serosa, the lining of the reproductive organs. There is no cure for mesothelioma. Prognosis after diagnosis is typically under one year.
Colon Cancer, Colorectal Cancer, and Rectal Cancer
Colon cancer, colorectal cancer, and rectal cancer can affect both men and women and be the result of asbestos exposure. Asbestos fibers that are inhaled can bypass the lung or are swallowed into the stomach and enter the bloodstream. The fibers are then able to become embedded in the lining of the colon, which causes tumors to develop. These tumors have the ability to spread to various parts of the body, and once the cancer cells begin to spread, the cancer is very hard to control.
Laryngeal and Throat Cancer
Cancers arising out of the pharynx (throat) and larynx (voice box) have been associated with high levels of asbestos exposure. When asbestos is inhaled, the thin, needle-like fibers can be caught in the squamous cells that line the airway of the larynx. Asbestos fibers can then become embedded into the larynx and cause tumors to develop which can ultimately negatively affect breathing, swallowing, and the vocal chords.
If you suspect your cancer was caused by asbestos exposure, contact the attorneys at GPW by calling 1-800-COMPLEX or filling out the evaluation form at the bottom of the page for a free consultation.