Lung cancer is a disease involving neuroendocrine cells that go through certain changes causing them to grow too much, forming tumors. It is one of the more common forms of cancer that can be caused by exposure to asbestos. Lung cancer can also be associated with other illnesses and diseases that stem from asbestos exposure including asbestosis and mesothelioma. Asbestos was widely used for several decades in chemical and power plants, shipyards, and construction yards just to name a few. Prior to government regulations in the 1970s, prolonged contact with asbestos was not regulated or fully understood. Thus millions of people across the world were exposed to it, sometimes leading to the development of destructive cancers and illnesses such as lung cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society, there are four types of neuroendocrine tumors that develop in the lungs. These tumors include: small-cell cancer, large cell neuroendocrine carcinoma, atypical carcinoid, and typical carcinoid. Classifications of these different types of lung cancer are varied and based off of particulars such as diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis. Usually, lung cancers are divided into two major groups known as non-small-cell lung cancer and small-cell lung cancer. Typically, non-small-cell lung cancer refers to a grouping of histologies, and is often referred to as NSCLC. Small-cell lung cancer, or SCLC, is one of the fastest growing and spreading of all cancers. NSCLC comprises a majority of the diagnosed lung cancer cases. However, the two types combined totaled over 220,000 new cases and over 150,000 deaths in 2010 as reported by the National Cancer Institute.
Lung cancer symptoms are varied and can modify case-to-case as can any illness or disease. More common symptoms include: a persistent cough, weight loss, headaches, fatigue, chest pain, changes in sputum such as color, amount, and consistency, or even the presence of blood in the sputum. This list of symptoms is in no way meant to serve as a medical diagnosis. Only a licensed physician or specialist is qualified to accurately diagnosis lung cancer. A doctor or specialist will often employ tests such as x-rays, PET scans, MRIs, CT scans, or biopsies in order to properly diagnosis a patient.
Leading experts in the fields of lung cancer and asbestos site some lifestyle choices as playing a role in the risk of cancer development. Asbestos has been officially classified as a human carcinogen, meaning that any exposure to it can be harmful. While unknown exposure to asbestos is not necessarily a lifestyle choice, the smoking of tobacco is. Tobacco smokers and others exhibiting lung conditions and illnesses prior to asbestos exposure have a greater risk of developing lung-related cancers. This is due, not only in part to a compromised respiratory system, but to the synergistic affect associated with smoking and exposure to asbestos.
Asbestosis is a non-cancerous illness that can also develop as a result of asbestos exposure. Asbestosis can increase the risk of developing lung cancer, with research indicating the possibility of a connection between these types of illnesses and mesothelioma. Mesothelioma exhibits a long-latency period, with first symptoms generally not being displayed until 20 to 50 years after exposure. Countless workers in plants, mines, shipyards, and other industries were unknowingly exposed to asbestos, with little to no effort made to protect them from this harmful mineral.