ASBESTOS AND LUNG CANCER
Asbestos exposure among smokers increases their likelihood of developing
Get a free copy of our
sourcebook, "Mesothelioma, Lung Cancer, Asbestos Litigation And Your
Asbestos and lung cancer information
Lung cancer is the most lethal malignant cancer worldwide, responsible for up
to 3 million deaths annually. Some lung cancer is caused by exposure to
The leading risk factor for lung cancer is smoking.
Treatment and prognosis depend upon the type of lung cancer and the stage
(degree of spread)lung cancer. Possible treatment options for lung cancer
include surgery, chemotherapy) and/or radiotherapy.
Lung cancer symptoms:
- Dyspnea (shortness of breath)
- Hemoptysis (coughing up blood)
- Chronic cough
- Chest pain
- Cachexia (weight loss), fatigue and loss of appetite
- Dysphonia (hoarse voice)
- Clubbing of the fingernails
According to medical authorities, many lung cancers have a rich blood supply.
The surface of the cancer may be fragile, however, leading to bleeding from the
cancer into the airway. This blood may subsequently be coughed out. In a large
number of patients, the cancer has already spread beyond the original site by
the time they seek medical care.
Performing a chest X-ray is the first action taken if a patient describes
symptoms that indicate lung cancer. The X-ray may reveal a mass, widening of the
mediastinum (suggestive of spread to lymph nodes there), atelectasis (collapse),
consolidation (infection) and pleural effusion.
If there are no X-ray findings but the suspicion is high (e.g. a heavy smoker
with blood-stained sputum), bronchoscopy and/or a CT scan may provide the
necessary information. In any case, bronchoscopy or CT-guided biopsy is often
necessary to identify the tumor type.
If investigations have confirmed lung cancer, scan results and often positron
emission tomography (PET) are used to find out whether the disease is localised
and amenable to surgery or whether it has spread so much that it cannot be cured
surgically. Blood tests and spirometry (lung function testing) are also
necessary to assess whether the patient is healthy enough for surgery. If
spirometry reveals a very poor respiratory reserve, as may occur in chronic
smokers, surgery may not be advisable.
Types of lung cancerThere are two types of lung cancer
categorized by the size and appearance of the malignant cells seen under a
microscope: small-cell (roughly 20%) and non-small cell (80%) lung cancer. This
classification has significant implications for clinical management and
prognosis of the disease.
Non-small cell lung cancer
The non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC) are grouped together because their
prognosis and management is roughly identical. The subtypes are:
- Epidermoid carcinoma (or Squamous cell carcinoma) also starts in the larger
breathing tubes but grows slower meaning that the size of these tumors varies
when on diagnosis.
- Adenocarcinoma (or for slower growing forms alveolar cell cancer) is a form
which starts near the gas-exchanging surface of the lung. It is less closely
associated with smoking.
- Large cell carcinoma is a fast-growing form that grows near the surface of
Small cell lung cancer
Small cell carcinoma (SCLC, also known as "oat cell carcinoma") is the less
common form of lung cancer. It usually starts in the larger breathing tubes and
becomes large quite quickly. The oncogene most commonly involved is L-myc. The
"oat" cell contains dense neurosecretory granules which give this an
endocrine/paraneoplastic syndrome association. It is more sensitive to
chemotherapy, but carries a worse prognosis and is often metastatic at
The main representatives in this group are carcinoid. Rarer lung cancers
include cylindroma and mucoepidermoid carcinoma.
Exposure to carcinogens, such as those present in
tobacco smoke, immediately causes cumulative changes to the tissue lining the
bronchi of the lungs (the bronchial mucous membrane) and more tissue gets
damaged until a tumor develops.
There are four main causes of lung cancer:
- Carcinogens such as those in cigarette smoke
- Radiation exposure
- Genetic susceptibility
- Viral infection
Weitz & Luxenberg is a leading plaintiffs' law firm that has represented people
affected by mesothelioma for over 20 years.
Men and women diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer caused by asbestos
exposure may be entitled to compensation from the companies
responsible for their disease.
If you would like a free consultation or more information about your legal
options, please complete the form on this page, and a representative of our law
firm will contact you as soon as possible.