Asbestos related cancer is more commonly known as mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma, the type of cancer most commonly associated with asbestos
exposure, is a malignancy that occurs in the lining of the lungs,
abdomen, and heart. A mesothelioma diagnosis is generally classified as
one of the following three types: pleural mesothelioma which occurs in
the lining of the lungs, known as the pleura, peritoneal mesothelioma
which occurs in the lining of the abdominal cavity, known as the
peritoneum and pericardial mesothelioma which occurs in the lining of
the heart, known as the pericardium.
Asbestos, which has been used for, quite literally, thousands of years
as a fire-retardant and insulation material has long been connected to
sickness, though not necessarily cancer until the last 50 years. Once
asbestos was classified as a known carcinogen, the Environmental
Protection Agency and Consumer Product Safety Commission imposed strict
regulation on its use in commercial and industrial products.
Unfortunately, many of the companies producing asbestos products were
well aware of the hazards which asbestos posed and continued to expose
workers and laborers to the harmful asbestos fibers.
Topics in this Section
What Is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring fire and heat resistant mineral that
was used in numerous products and industries prior to 1980.
While mesothelioma is the most harmful illnesses caused by asbestos, it
has also been linked to lung cancer, asbestosis, and other respiratory
There are two major sub-classifications of asbestos types, serpentine and amphibole.
Once asbestos was linked to cancer, companies were directed to utilize
asbestos alternatives. Learn about specific alternatives in this
Asbestos has been used for many years for the purposes of insulation,
prevention of heat transfer, and durability in industrial and
Asbestos Facts and Statistics
Learn more about specific asbestos facts and statistics in this comprehensive section of our website.
Asbestos Disease in Pets and other Animals
Asbestos disease is known not only to affect humans, but has also been known to affect domestic pets and other animals.
More Asbestos Cancer Information
Asbestos cancer diagnosis is difficult due to the symptoms of the disease mimicking those of other illnesses.
Asbestos cancer diagnosis, including diagnosis of mesothelioma and lung
carcinoma, can be difficult because symptoms of the disease can closely
mimic those of other more minor respiratory complications. Symptoms,
such as shortness of breath, chest pain, or chronic cough may lead
physicians to suspect mesothelioma, particularly if the patient has a
known asbestos exposure history.
Diagnostic tools include CT scans and MRIs for patients where asbestos
cancer is suspected. In most cases, these imaging scans will be able to
provide a picture of the tumor, but a biopsy will likely be required to
determine a conclusive diagnosis of mesothelioma rather than other lung
carcinomas. In cases where pleural or peritoneal effusions have
manifested in the patient, draining these and extracting the fluid
through pleurocentesis can allow oncologists to test the fluid for the
presence of malignant cells.
Asbestos Cancer Treatment
Asbestos cancer treatment options typically include some combination surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation
Depending on the location of the cancer, generally asbestos related
malignancies can be difficult to resect because the latency period over
which the cancer goes undetected can often extend into the time period
where the tumor develops through its preliminary stages. Later stage
cancers, and particularly those related to asbestos, will often not be
resectable malignancies. While diagnosis of early stage asbestos cancer
is uncommon, certainly those eligible for surgical removal will often
have the cancer resected. Adjuvant chemotherapy is often administered
after surgery to complement the resection.
Pleurectomy and Extrapleural pneumonectomy, both extensive surgeries,
are often used in the treatment of pleural asbestos cancer. Surgery is
much less common in malignant peritoneal and pericardial cancer, as the
origin of the tumor is difficult to access without endangering the
survival of the patient.
Chemotherapy is the most frequently utilized treatment mechanism for the
control of asbestos cancer. Drugs like Alimpta, Cisplatin, and
Gemcitabine have all been used with varying degrees of efficacy to halt
or slow the spread of malignant mesothelioma and lung carcinomas.
Ongoing clinical trials continue to test new drugs and drug cocktails
for the management and treatment of asbestos cancer. Recent trends
suggest that researchers are making strides in determining approved
treatment regimens not only for malignant pleural mesothelioma, but also
peritoneal and pericardial cancers.
Currently, the only FDA-approved chemotherapy regimen for the asbestos
cancer malignant pleural mesothelioma is a combination of Alimta and
Cisplatin, delivered intravenously, with 21 days between each subsequent
injection. Asbestos lung cancer carcinomas are also treatable with
chemotherapy. Because asbestos cancer incidence of this type is much
more prevalent (and not necessarily directly attributable to asbestos
exposure), there are many more chemotherapy options available to
External beam radiation is popular among patients receiving treatment
for pleural and peritoneal cancer. Pericardial cancer patients may also
utilize radiation in the control of their cancer, but in lower dosages
considering the region's proximity to the heart. Radiation therapy is
considered useful for palliation as well to prevent malignant cells from
taking hold again following surgery.
As part of developing studies into the control of asbestos cancer
through radiotherapy, researchers have begun utilizing brachytherapy to
control mesothelioma tumor spread and growth. Brachytherapy is an
internal radiation source implanted in the affected area which has shown
promise in clinical studies in reducing tumor mass and slowing. Every
year, mesothelioma survival rates are extended further and more funding
is now being invested in research to evaluate new options for treatment.
Researchers hope to one day find a cure for mesothelioma.
Compensation for Asbestos Cancer
Many asbestos cancer patients have successfully collected compensation from asbestos companies responsible for their exposure.
Unfortunately, it has come to light in recent years that many
manufacturers of asbestos products were fully aware of the harmful
nature of asbestos fibers and continued to expose hundreds of thousands
of laborers to the toxic mineral. Asbestos products were prevalent in
naval shipyards, power plants, oil refineries, and in ventilation/steam
fixtures. Asbestos was also common in home construction materials,
automobile parts, and thousands of other products.
Fortunately, you may be eligible for financial compensation if you have
been diagnosed with asbestos-related cancer or other injury. While
prognosis for asbestos related cancer is often poor, those who have been
exposed negligently are able to secure compensation for their treatment
as well as for their families in their battle with terminal disease. If
you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma or other
asbestos-related diseases, we urge you to fill out the brief form on
this page. We'll send you an up-to-date information packet on new
treatment options for mesothelioma, how to obtain compensation for your
injuries, and important timelines associated with legal recourse for
asbestos cancer patients.
National Cancer Institute - Asbestos Exposure and Cancer Risk
American Cancer Society - Asbestos - What Is Asbestos?
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