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Asbestos Cancer – An Introduction

Asbestos Cancer – An Introduction

Asbestos has been used throughout the 20th century in a wide range of industries. Commercial forms of asbestos come in many varieties which makes it useful for different purposes.

Can asbestos cause cancer?

By the 1950’s – at the height of its popularity – asbestos had been linked to a growing number of health scares. Asbestos workers fell ill with disabling diseases, many of which were terminal. By 1955 asbestos had been at the centre of several legal battles which saw many countries ban  or heavily regulate the use of asbestos. Asbestos has been recognized as a human carcinogen (a substance that causes cancer) by the International Agency for Research on Cancer

What Cancers can be Caused by Asbestos?

Many asbestos related illnesses are found in the lungs. Lung Cancer and Mesothelioma, a cancer of the lung membrane, are the most common forms of asbestos cancer.

Recent medical research has suggested a link between exposure to asbestos and a wide range of other cancers outside the lungs, including:

·         Gastrointestinal

·         Throat

·         Kidney

·         Oesophagus

·         Gallbladder

Most health organisations agree that asbestos can cause cancers outside of the lungs.

Asbestos and lung disease

Although asbestos has been linked to a wide range of cancers, the lungs remain the most vulnerable area of the body. Asbestos exposure usually occurs when people inhale hazardous asbestos fibres. These can settle in the lungs causing inflammation and related  problems:

·         Asbestosis

·         Respiratory diseases

·         Pleural thickening

·         Pleural plaques

Studies have shown that many of these illnesses are caused by asbestos exposure including the rare and treatment resistant malignant mesothelioma.

Asbestos cancer remains an area of concern for industry watchdogs and health organsiations. Workers who have been regularly exposed to asbestos should stay alert to the warning signs. Any symptoms should be checked out  with your GP  immediately. This allows for early diagnosis and can improve the effectiveness of asbestos cancer treatment.