What Is Asbestos Cancer and Is There a Cure?

Asbestos cancer is known as mesothelioma, although there are a number of cancers that are associated with asbestos. Asbestos exposure has been known to cause lung cancer, colorectal and gastrointestinal cancers, as well.

Exposure to asbestos in the work place has been the most common reason for these types of cancer to occur. This type of cancer is also known to show up twenty years from the time of exposure. The longer you were exposed to asbestos, the more the likelihood will be that you contract mesothelioma or another type of asbestos related cancer.

Studies conducted by the World Health Organization have shown that over half of deaths related to occupational hazards are due to asbestos exposure.The only cancer that is clearly linked to asbestos is mesothelioma.

Those inflicted with this type of cancer have inhaled or ingested vigorous amounts of asbestos over a lengthy period of time. Tumors begin to develop in the lining of lungs and the abdominal cavity, eventually. Rare cases have purported to have affected the testicles and lining of the heart.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, asbestos is the greatest risk for American asbestos workers and mesothelioma is the second most common cancer in the U.S. Over the last two decades, it has been estimated that between five thousand and ten thousand fatalities have been related to asbestos. The progression of mesothelioma has spread over the last two decades.

Lung cancer, unlike mesothelioma, is a greater risk for those that were exposed to asbestos and also smoke. Smoke and traces of asbestos in your lungs will drastically weaken them and increase the likelihood of developing lung cancer. This fact alone has drastically increased the number of lung cancer cases related to asbestos.Four percent of lung cancer cases are due to asbestos exposure in the United States, as well.

Asbestos has been known to cause other types of cancer too. The effect asbestos has had on those exposed to it, is not clearly outlined yet. Asbestos exposure can cause other types of cancer as indicated by several studies. Other types of cancer that are directly related to asbestos exposure as listed below.

  • Kidney Cancer

  • Throat Cancer

  • Esophagus Cancer

  • Gallbladder Cancer

  • Prostate Cancer

  • Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

  • Breast Cancer

  • Gastrointestinal Cancer

  • Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

  • Gastrointestinal Cancer

  • Leukemia

  • Ovarian

Risk Factors and Causes of Asbestos Related Cancers

In order to contract cancer from asbestos, you would have had to have lived or worked in an environment that cause you to inhale or ingest asbestos fibers. Asbestos fibers are toxic when they enter the body. This is due to the fact that they can cause unhealthy genetic changes in your mesothelial cells.

Those healthy cells die once infected by the asbestos fibers and a tumor will then grow in their place. Asbestos strictly causes mesothelioma while smoking and an exposure to asbestos and radon can cause lung cancer. The asbestos will progress lung cancer in smoker much quicker than smoking alone.

Smoking does not increase your chances of contracting mesothelioma. However, when smoking is combined with exposure to asbestos the chances of developing lung cancer increase drastically.

There are other factors that can affect your overall risk of asbestos cancer that include poor dietary habits, high levels of stress and little to no exercise. These conditions will not cause asbestos related cancer, but they will be contributing factors if you have already had a lot of exposure to asbestos.

Asbestos Cancer Symptoms

Some of the symptoms of asbestos cancer may seem like they belong to that of the common cold or flu, and some of them are more serious. If you have worked with asbestos or had any exposure for long periods of time in your work place, then you should keep this list of symptoms in mind. A trip to see your physician would be a good idea too so you can be tested for asbestos related cancers. The symptoms for asbestos cancer are listed below.

  • Irritating, dry cough

  • Chest pain

  • Lung infection

  • Sputum production increase

  • Blood mixed with sputum

Asbestos Cancer Treatments

There are treatments available for asbestos cancer. The sooner you begin treatment, the better your chance is at recovery. It also depends on the location and size of the tumor as well as how far it has spread.There are a few things that your recovery will hinge upon, however. If you are a current smoker, you will need to stop smoking immediately.Options for treatment include the following:

  • Surgery

  • Photodynamic therapy

  • Chemotherapy

  • Radiotherapy

Those that undergo surgery may have a part of a lung removed, an entire lobe or just a small part of the lung. In extreme cases, an entire lung has been removed. Recovery is probable for those that are healthy even if they have had a whole lung removed. If you have been a smoker then recovery may be more difficult and include a shortness of breath you experience for the rest of your life.

Photodynamic therapy is a laser surgery used to kill cancer cells. An injection of a special chemical is injected into your blood stream which the cancer cells absorb. Then a laser light activates the chemical and destroys the cancerous cells. If you undergo this type of treatment you can expect nausea and sensitivity to the light via your eyes and skin.

Chemotherapy uses cytotoxic medications as well as a multitude of other drugs and chemicals that are used to kill cancer cells. Although the treatment itself is not comfortable, it does destroy cancer cells and can have a positive effect on your health in the long run. Radiotherapy involved high doses of radiation that are localized to target malignant tumors and destroy cancer cells. Again, this is not a pleasant experience but it does help cure this type of cancer.

If you feel that you have been exposed to asbestos then you need to be tested immediately. All of the treatments mentioned above cannot help you if you do not know you need them and do not seek medical care. The sooner you tackle this problem, the better off you will be.  


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