The World Health Organization reports that almost half of all deaths from occupational cancer are caused by asbestos. There are several cancers that have been confirmed to have a direct relationship with an asbestos exposure. Lung cancer and mesothelioma are most commonly associated with asbestos exposure; however, higher risks for a number of other cancers are associated with asbestos exposure, including laryngeal cancer, ovarian cancer, gastrointestinal and colorectal cancer, esophageal cancer, and kidney and gallbladder cancers.
The most common disease associated with an asbestos exposure is lung cancer. There are two classifications for this type of cancer. They are small cell lung cancer and non-small lung cancer. Both can occur after an exposure to asbestos, but symptoms do not become evident until at least 10-15 years after the initial exposure. The combination of an exposure to asbestos and smoking is extremely dangerous and greatly increases an individual’s risk of developing lung cancer. Generally, patients diagnosed with lung cancer have a better prognosis than those diagnosed with mesothelioma. According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 160,340 people will die from lung cancer in the year 2012 with 7,750 of them living in Pennsylvania.
Malignant mesothelioma is another type of cancer that is linked to asbestos. Mesothelioma is a rare but aggressive form of cancer that primarily affects the lining of the lungs called the pleura. Pleural mesothelioma accounts for 75 percent of all mesothelioma cases. Although not as common, mesothelioma can also affect the lining of the abdomen known as the peritoneum or the lining around the heart known as the pericardium. Asbestos is the only known risk factor for mesothelioma. There are an estimated 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma diagnosed each year in the United States. There is no known cure, although new treatments to improve survival rates and quality of life are the subject of numerous ongoing research and studies at all times.
The larynx, which is also known as the voice box, is an organ located in the throat between the base of the tongue and the trachea. When asbestos fibers are inhaled, they follow a path in which they pass by the larynx and some of the fibers may accumulate there. Epidemiological research studies have been conducted that infer that asbestos is a probable cause of laryngeal cancer. A team of international experts from the World Health Organization reviewed and analyzed numerous published studies and revealed that individuals with an exposure to asbestos were 1.4 times more likely to develop laryngeal cancer than those with no exposure to the hazardous material. They also concluded that higher levels of asbestos exposure were associated with a twofold increased risk.
The ovaries are a pair of small reproductive organs found in women. Exposure to asbestos was linked to the development of ovarian cancer by the International Agency for Research on Cancer in 2009. In addition, research has looked at another possible risk factor, the use of talcum powder. Talcum powder is made from talc, which in its natural form can contain asbestos. When talcum powder is used on the genital area, the fine particles can travel through the reproductive system. A number of studies have examined the possible link between the use of this powder and the incidence of cancer of the ovaries.
Increased incidents of gastrointestinal cancers have been reported in asbestos-exposed populations caused by continuing oral contact, for example, asbestos-contaminated drinking water. Tumors can develop along various locations in the gastrointestinal tract. Research shows that installation asbestos workers are more likely to develop tumors in the upper gastrointestinal tract (i.e. esophagus and stomach) than the lower sites (i.e. the colon and the rectum). Cement workers who have inhaled asbestos over the years have a strong connection to developing colorectal cancer.
Asbestos has been found in human kidneys and urine among residents who had asbestos-sided pipes that were used to funnel water supplies. This finding leads researchers to believe that asbestos fibers are the cause for cancerous changes in the kidney. Studies have shown a direct relation between an excess of kidney cancer and workers exposed to asbestos. Asbestos-tainted water has a connection to female gallbladder cancers. The National Cancer Society has reported that gallbladder cancer risks are increased by asbestos exposure.
The Pennsylvania and New Jersey mesothelioma lawyers at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler have dedicated their practice to assisting victims of mesothelioma and other deadly asbestos-related cancers and illness. If you or someone you love has been exposed to asbestos and has developed lung cancer, mesothelioma or any other asbestos-related illness, we encourage you to consult with one of our experienced personal injury lawyers who can help you through this difficult time. Our legal team will advise you of your options, protect your rights and fight to secure you the maximum compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering. Call our asbestos exposure attorneys today at our Philadelphia office to schedule a free and confidential consultation at 215-569-4000 or submit an online contact form.