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Which Diseases are Caused by Asbestos Exposure?

Mesothelioma diagnosis notebook

Asbestos is a dangerous mineral that can be associated with several diseases. The material has been used in construction and building sites throughout the country over the years, exposing an unknown number of people to its dangerous fibers. Exposure to these elements, even if it is for just a short period, can still result in a number of respiratory-related illnesses. Those diseases include:

  • Mesothelioma
  • Lung cancer
  • Asbestosis
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

While the amount of time a person is exposed to asbestos does not impact the chances they have in contracting one of these horrible diseases, there are other factors that can contribute to the overall health and age.


Mesothelioma is the most well-known disease associated with asbestos exposure. It is an aggressive form of cancer that infects the lining of the lungs and chest cavity. Some of the earlier symptoms of mesothelioma include difficulty breathing, chest pain, and fatigue. Complicating matters is the fact that these symptoms mirror others found in other respiratory illnesses, making it harder to detect.

It could take years for the disease to develop, meaning there is no window of danger after a person is exposed to asbestos; they are always at risk. About 3,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year. The most common type is pleural mesothelioma, which infects the lining of the lungs. However, mesothelioma can exist in any cavity of the body with a similar membrane. Rare types of mesothelioma include:

  • Peritoneal mesothelioma: This infects the lining of the stomach and abdominal cavity.
  • Pericardial mesothelioma: This infects the pericardium or the sac around the heart.
  • Testicular mesothelioma: This version infects the lining of the testes.

What makes these diseases difficult is that they could demonstrate different symptoms, making it difficult to diagnose them properly.

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is an aggressive and often deadly disease caused by exposure to numerous carcinogens, including asbestos. In fact, asbestos is a factor in about 20 percent of all lung cancer cases. The disease causes tumors to grow in the inner pleural tissue. Like mesothelioma, symptoms tend to mask themselves as other respiratory conditions. That makes it even more dangerous, especially for patients who are non-smokers and assume that they are not at risk. That dangerous decision can delay their diagnosis and their treatment.


Asbestosis, or diffused pulmonary fibrosis, is the result of scar tissue build up in the lungs. When asbestos fibers become lodged in the lungs, the immune system tries to eliminate them, which causes scarring and inflammation. That damage prevents the lungs from expanding and contracting normally. Patients experience chest pain, shortness of breath, chronic cough, and they have difficulty getting enough oxygen. Asbestosis is progressive and could cause lung or heart failure.


COPD is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that results in obstructed airflow from the lungs. While exposure to asbestos cannot directly result in COPD, it can be a contributing factor. However, COPD can increase a person’s chances of contracting other diseases. The impact of asbestos exposure on lung tissue can make a person more likely to develop COPD. Conversely, a person whose lungs have been weakened by COPD may be at a higher risk of serious complications from asbestos exposure.

Philadelphia Asbestos Lawyers at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler Advocate for Victims Suffering from Asbestos Exposure

If you or a loved one is suffering from mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, contact the Philadelphia asbestos lawyers at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler. We have successfully represented asbestos exposure victims and their families in all types of asbestos cases. Our team has the knowledge and resources to obtain the compensation to which you are entitled. Call us today at 215-569-4000 or contact us online for an initial consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we help victims and their families throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Delaware County, Chester County, and Philadelphia County.