The Link Between Asbestos Exposure and Malignant Cancers

Most people are aware that mesothelioma, certain forms of lung cancer and asbestosis are all serious diseases caused by direct exposure to asbestos-containing substances. When a person is exposed to asbestos-containing materials this does not necessarily mean that they will end up with asbestosis or mesothelioma. However, it is generally accepted that asbestos-exposure does increase one’s lifelong risk of developing both malignant and benign asbestos-exposure related illnesses. The malignant nature of asbestos-exposure related cancers can result in a much greater risk of death than benign asbestos-exposure related illnesses such as asbestosis. In order to understand cancers caused by asbestos-exposure, it is important to understand the malignant nature of these diseases.

Malignant Asbestos-Related Illnesses

Asbestos exposure is responsible for the most occupational cancers experienced in the United States. Occupational asbestos exposure can result in an assortment of different malignant cancers. Malignancy is the process of cancerous-cells spreading throughout the body, and thus allowing the illness to become more life-threatening than if the cancerous cells had remained stationary in the lungs, which is where asbestos typically enters the body via the inhalation of asbestos-containing fibers/materials. The three main types of malignant cancers caused by asbestos-exposure are mesothelioma, lung cancer, ovarian cancer and laryngeal cancer. Other less common malignant cancers include esophageal cancer, kidney cancer, gallbladder cancer and throat cancer.

Lung cancer is a malignant illness that occurs when asbestos-containing materials are inhaled and enter into the lungs. Not all cases of lung cancers are caused by asbestos, but it is a common occurrence in those who are exposed to large amounts of asbestos over extended time periods. The difficulty with treating lung cancer caused by asbestos, is that this type of cancer is practically indistinguishable from lung cancer that is not the direct result of asbestos-exposure. Furthermore, those who are exposed to asbestos-containing substances also engage in risky activities such as smoking which can exacerbate one’s risk for both asbestos lung cancer and non-asbestos lung cancer.

Mesothelioma is a different type of malignant cancer that causes over 3,000 deaths a year in the US. and is regarded as the most deadly of all asbestos-related cancers. Mesothelioma attacks the body’s mesothelium, which is a thin protective lining that covers crucial organs such as the lungs and stomach. Mesothelioma causes tumors to grow on this protective lining. Because the cancer is malignant it can spread beyond the organ where the mesothelioma tumors originate and into the testicles, heart and stomach, thus resulting in more serious forms of mesothelioma including pericardial, peritoneal, pleural and testicular mesothelioma.

Ovarian cancer is another malignant illness that has been diagnosed in women who have been exposed to asbestos. It is believed that the asbestos migrates from its entry point, and moves through the organs until it makes it to a woman’s ovaries.

Laryngeal cancer is a less common form of malignant cancer caused by asbestos exposure. Laryngeal cancer is caused when cancerous tumours form on the larynx. Though not always caused by asbestos exposure, there is a direct link between one’s exposure asbestos-containing fibers and laryngeal cancer. However, the occurrence of this cancer has been shown to be exacerbated by drinking and smoking, which both abuse the larynx.
Malignant diseases are less common than benign illnesses caused by asbestos-exposure. However, malignancy by nature is life-threatening because it allows the cancer to spread beyond the asbestos’ original point of entry into the body. Think you have a claim for any malignant cancers that may have been caused by occupational asbestos-exposure? Contact an asbestos exposure attorney today.




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