Despite federal regulations reducing the amount of asbestos used in this country, mesothelioma cases continue to surface daily. Mesothelioma, an aggressive type of cancer that forms in the lining of the body’s internal organs, has one known cause —asbestos exposure. Those exposed to the deadly fibers may not experience symptoms for 20-50 years after the exposure.
Developing mesothelioma is not the only risk one can potentially encounter with the inhalation or ingestion of the airborne fibers. There is enough medical evidence to prove that asbestos causes three other types of cancer: lung cancer, laryngeal cancer and colon cancer.
Asbestos-related lung cancer and pleural mesothelioma share similar symptoms, but they are two separate diseases. While the asbestos fibers attach to the lining of the lungs in mesothelioma patients, lung cancer patients develop cancer in the actual tissue of the lung. Symptoms of asbestos-related lung cancer typically occur 15-35 years after the exposure. Known as the deadliest type of asbestos cancer, it kills twice as many Americans each year as mesothelioma.
Although a rare type of cancer, laryngeal cancer has been connected to asbestos exposure. After being inhaled, asbestos fibers can become lodged in the larynx, or voice box, on their way to the lungs. The risks associated with this type of cancer are significantly increased by the amount of asbestos exposure, as well as the combination of smoking and drinking.
More common in men than women, colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S. There are several risk factors associated with the disease, but recently, research has shown that asbestos exposure can also elevate the risk of developing this type of cancer. Ingesting asbestos fibers is just as deadly as inhaling them. When the toxic fibers are swallowed and ingested through the esophagus, they are able to enter the gastrointestinal tract and eventually become lodged in the walls of the intestines. Soon after, cellular mutations take place and cancer develops in the colon.
Factors Affecting Asbestos-Related Cancers
There are several contributing factors that affect the risks associated with asbestos exposure. Every individual responds differently to the exposure, but the following factors play a role:
- Amount of exposure
- Duration of the exposure
- Size, shape, and chemical makeup of the asbestos fibers inhaled or ingested
- Source of the exposure
- Risk factors associate with the individual, such as smoking and pre-existing lung disease
- Genetic factors, such as having a germline mutation in BAP1 (12)
If you or a loved one has been recently diagnosed with mesothelioma or other asbestos-related cancer, it is important to contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible. There are attorneys that specialize in asbestos litigation all across the country. Along with years of experience, these attorneys have the medical documents, research, and contacts to expedite these cases and will fight for the maximum compensation.