While lung cancer is most commonly associated with smoking, research has shown that it can also be linked to the inhalation of asbestos. Asbestos is a harmful material if one is exposed to it for any period of time, with prolonged exposure compounding the risks and effects. Lung cancer remains among the leading causes of death due to cancer in both men and women in the United States. It claims more lives than prostate, colon, lymph, and breast cancers combined. Lung cancer forms in the tissues of the lung, usually in those cells that line the air passages. The National Cancer Institute states that people who hold certain jobs, such as those in construction and chemical industries, have an increased risk of lung cancer due to asbestos exposure. Exposure to asbestos is also linked to other cancers, namely, mesothelioma.
Often, the early stages of lung cancer do not exhibit any symptoms. This results in a majority of patients not typically being diagnosed until the disease has already reached advanced stages. Lung cancer has a tendency to spread. Common areas of the body that lung cancer is likely to spread to are other parts of the lungs, lymph nodes, the brain, liver, adrenal glands, and bones. As the cancer develops, common symptoms may include:
- Chest pain
- Weight loss
- Habitual cough
- Coughing up blood
- Loss of appetite
- Shortness of breath
Late-stage symptoms may include the above mentioned ones as well as:
- Difficulty swallowing
- Eyelid drooping
- Difficulty swallowing
- Joint pain
- Facial paralysis
- Bone and joint pain or tenderness
It is important to know that these symptoms do not always indicate lung cancer. Only a licensed physician or specialist can diagnose these symptoms as lung cancer specific.
Asbestos-induced lung cancer can take years, even decades to present symptoms. Mesothelioma caused by asbestos is similar, with symptoms exhibiting latency periods of anywhere from 20 to 50 years. With asbestos- induced lung cancer the dangers of smoking are multiplied as the two causations combine to have a synergistic effect. Experiencing the aforementioned symptoms could be an indication of lung cancer, mesothelioma, or other asbestos-induced illnesses like asbestosis. A consultation with a physician or specialist can lead to a proper diagnosis, as well as further details concerning specific treatment options and prognosis.