Last Updated on October 1, 2020 by Kirsty Smithson
Asbestos cancer is most often referred to as mesothelioma, with that being the most common type of cancer caused by asbestos.
However, there are other cancers that have been linked to asbestos exposure such as lung, throat and ovarian cancer.
Exposure to asbestos causes asbestos cancers.
When someone inhales or swallows the microscopic fibers, the risk of cancer increases as the tiny fibers can become lodged in the body.
Over a long period of time, these fibers can make changes to the cells in the body and lead to cancer.
Most people are exposed to asbestos because of their occupation, mainly tradesmen working in construction or ship building.
Plus, you’re more at risk of developing an asbestos related disease if you’re a smoker.
There are various symptoms to look out for, but one of the earliest signs of asbestos related illness is shortness of breath and coughing.
Individuals may also experience chest pain.
These particular symptoms are usually connected to pleural mesothelioma, lung cancer and pericardial mesothelioma.
Other symptoms to look out for are signs of any abdominal pain or swelling, problems with digestion, feeling sick and any changes in bowel habits.
Peritoneal mesothelioma, colon cancer, ovarian cancer and stomach cancer are connected with these symptoms.
Asbestos exposure causes four main types of cancer – Mesothelioma being the most common, followed by lung, Laryngeal and ovarian.
This type of cancer is the only one that is directly caused as a result of asbestos exposure.
Mesotheliomas form in the lining of the lungs (the pleura) in approximately 75% of cases.
In almost 20% of cases, the mesotheliomas form in the lining of the abdomen (peritoneum).
And in approximately 5% of cases, mesotheliomas develop in the lining of the heart or testes.
Lung cancer is a big killer and is also linked to asbestos exposure, with 4% of cases being a direct result of being exposed to to the deadly minerals.
Most lung cancers are caused by smoking, but if you’ve already been exposed to asbestos, then smoking as well increases the risk.
Although more rare, asbestos exposure can also lead to cancer of the larynx/throat.
However, in most cases, this type of cancer is directly linked to smoking and drinking large amounts of alcohol.
Saying that, if you’ve been exposed to asbestos, and you smoke and drink heavily, then your chances of developing this illness are greatly increased.
There is a link between exposure to asbestos and ovarian cancer, but researchers have yet to identify why this is the case.
One theory is that products like talcum powder could be the cause as it’s been claimed that some brands contain traces of asbestos, although manufacturers dispute these claims.
The main cancers linked to asbestos are outlined above, but medical research suggests that there are possible links to other cancers such as colon, stomach and pharyngeal cancers (throat).
Other cancers are currently being researched as having a potential link to asbestos.
These cancers include kidney, breast, esophageal, Leukemia and prostate.
Not enough evidence has yet been collated to prove a definite link, but researchers continue to study the possibilities.
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