Asbestos related lung cancer

Last Updated on September 17, 2020 by

Asbestos related lung cancer deaths on a par with mesothelioma deaths

After tobacco smoking, asbestos is up there as being one of the main causes of lung cancer, and asbestos related lung cancer death rates are now on a par with those of mesothelioma.

Historically, it has been very difficult to pinpoint the causes of individual cases of lung cancer.

This is due to the fact that lung cancer typically has no specific clinical signs that are associated with particular causes.

Although, epidemiological information has meant that the number of annual deaths from asbestos exposure can be estimated.

As with mesothelioma, asbestos related lung cancer is fatal, and patients who are diagnosed will typically live no longer than a couple of years.

Figures show that the number of annual deaths from both diseases is very similar to the annual incidence of new cases.

Current statistics on asbestos related lung cancer

asbestos related lung cancer deaths on a par with mesothelioma deaths UK
x-ray showing case of asbestos related lung cancer

Clinical studies conducted

Researchers have carried out epidemiological studies on specific groups of workers that were known to have been heavily exposed to asbestos in the past.

These studies have typically estimated a larger number of lung cancers attributed to asbestos than there were mesotheliomas.

However, such studies have been conducted outside of the UK in other countries.

But indicative evidence within the UK’s own research would correlate, although this estimate is uncertain.

Working on this basis, it would mean a ratio of one asbestos related lung cancer for every mesothelioma, implying that there are currently around 2500 deaths each year within the UK from this type of lung cancer.

This trend is set to change over the coming years.

What does the future hold?

Experts predict there will be fewer cases of asbestos lung cancer per mesothelioma due to reductions in asbestos exposure and people smoking in the last decade or so.

There have been around 275 new cases recorded each year over the last few years according to the HSE.

Only 180 of these cases were reported in 2017 within the IIDB scheme (Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit).

And around 80 cases on average have been identified by chest physicians each year within the THOR scheme.

In 2017, the THOR (the Health and Occupation Reporting) scheme only estimated 41 cases.

The problem with schemes such as these is that they tend to substantially underestimate the true scale of these cases.

This is because they rely on the counting of individual cases attributed to asbestos exposures.

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Published Nov 05, 2018

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