Mesothelioma is a rare cancer, even though it is the most common of cancers caused by exposure to asbestos. More than one silicate mineral is referred to collectively as asbestos. Asbestos is found in underground rock deposits and was once heavily used, and still is to a degree, in the industrial world for many different occupational, military, commercial, and residential capacities. Asbestos is resistant to fire, electricity, and chemical corrosion, making it an instrumental material to build with, which is great for construction but not so much for those working there. It’s largely found in insulation and heat-resistant products.
After decades of mining, processing, distributing, and utilizing asbestos in a variety of construction capacities, researchers discovered its toxic properties. The mineral was then classified as a carcinogen (known to cause cancer) when employees and veterans who worked around it began developing mesothelioma and other cancers years after prolonged asbestos exposure. Asbestos exposure has been known to cause other noncancerous diseases as well, like asbestosis.
Asbestos-Related Lung Cancers
Pleural mesothelioma, commonly attributed to asbestos inhalation, is the most prevalent among these asbestos-related cancers. Additionally, lung cancer emerges as another consequential disease resulting from exposure. The spectrum of cancers associated with asbestos expands to encompass different parts of the throat, colon cancer, ovarian cancer, stomach cancer, and adenocarcinoma.
Even some international research has shown that colon cancer has a higher chance of happening near asbestos mines when we consider other influencing factors, even if the data shows the actual risk isn’t through the roof. Now, when it comes to other cancers related to asbestos, like lung or ovarian cancer, there isn’t a significant rise in cases around asbestos mines compared to regular areas.
Mesothelioma -Asbestos-Related Cancer
When asbestos fibers are dispersed into the air in mining, construction, demolition, and renovation projects, workers and those nearby can easily ingest them. Primarily, the fibers tend to get stuck around the lungs, where they irritate the tissue. Still, the fibers can sometimes penetrate into other areas of the body but are primarily inhaled or digested. The most common cancer that develops when consumed from asbestos exposure is mesothelioma, which can form in the tissue linings of three different sites of the body. These include tissues lining the lungs (pleura), the abdomen (peritoneum), and the heart (pericardium).
Ovarian Mesothelioma Cancer
Ovarian mesothelioma is a rare and highly aggressive neoplastic disease characterized by its propensity to extend beyond the ovaries to the peritoneum, posing diagnostic challenges and frequently leading to misdiagnoses. This condition often extends beyond the ovaries to the peritoneum from the onset. The complexities of distinguishing it from ovarian carcinoma or peritoneal mesothelioma can lead to frequent misdiagnoses, raising questions about its origins.
Cases of histological diagnoses of ovarian mesothelioma sourced from the mesothelioma register of Apulia in Southern Italy have shown that the female peritoneum is vulnerable to the entry of carcinogenic agents through the reproductive organs. This paves the way for asbestos fibers to contribute to neoplastic degeneration. These kinds of cases underscore the unique vulnerability of the female peritoneum to carcinogenic agents, suggesting that the reproductive organs may serve as potential entry points for harmful substances and fibers. This observation sheds light on the intricate dynamics of ovarian mesothelioma development, emphasizing the importance of understanding the specific pathways through which carcinogens may reach and impact the peritoneal region in women who underwent exposure.
Head and Neck Cancers – Laryngeal Mesothelioma
Recent studies have established asbestos as a definite cause of laryngeal cancer. The duration and intensity of exposure play a crucial role, amplifying the likelihood of a proper laryngeal diagnosis. Notably, a 2021 research study conducted near abandoned asbestos mines in South Korea reported a higher incidence of laryngeal cancer among residents, providing real-world evidence of the impact of asbestos-related cancer within affected communities.
Research also involving rats and Syrian hamsters revealed that asbestos inhalation, at levels capable of inducing mesothelioma in both species and lung cancer in rats, did not provoke chronic inflammation or elevate the risk of laryngeal cancer conversely.
This still reinforces the need for awareness and proactive measures in addressing the risks associated with asbestos exposure, particularly concerning occupational workers. Several cancer types develop in specific areas inside and around the throat and can vary based on exposure lengths. Throat cancer tumors in this region also can affect the windpipe, as tumors can develop in the epiglottis (windpipe lid). Here are the top three that could mostly be affected by asbestos exposure.
- Laryngeal Cancer: Tumors for this disease form specifically in the voice box (larynx), often impacting vocal cord function and necessitating specialized treatment approaches.
- Pharyngeal Cancer:These tumors develop in the throat (pharynx), encompassing various regions such as the nasopharynx, oropharynx, and hypopharynx, presenting diverse challenges in diagnosis and treatment.
- Oropharyngeal Cancer: Also a subtype of pharyngeal cancer, oropharyngeal cancer is a type of throat cancer that develops specifically in the middle part of the throat (oropharynx). Notably, it is often associated with human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, adding a distinct dimension to its etiological factors and potential treatment considerations.
Other Cancers – Colon and Stomach Cancer
Tumors can develop in other regions of the body, depending on if the asbestos fibers were ingested. Besides inhalation, the fibers can be swallowed, exposing a deeper area within the body. Some indications suggest that asbestos may contribute to the development of other digestive cancers. Reports of asbestos fibers in histological samples from gastric, biliary, and colon cancers have surfaced, though the underlying mechanism is a subject of controversy.
While there is a hypothesis that asbestos reaches these sites, potentially through people drinking contaminated water, experimental studies propose that inhaled fibers exhibit mobility, allowing them to migrate to various organs either directly or via blood and lymph flow. Other cancers that can develop from asbestos exposure include colon cancer and stomach cancer.
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This illness consists of tumor development in the large intestine (the final part of the digestive tract). This disease can begin as a clump of noncancerous cells, known as polyps, forming inside the colon, which may be easily missed due to a lack of symptoms. Given the emerging evidence of asbestos potentially playing a role in digestive cancers, including colon cancer, understanding the diverse pathways through which carcinogens may impact the gastrointestinal system becomes increasingly crucial for comprehensive healthcare.
This form of adenocarcinoma emerges from the mucus-producing cells that line the stomach. Delving into the potential connection between asbestos exposure and the development of digestive cancers, including stomach cancer, adds layers to our understanding of how environmental factors may contribute to specific gastrointestinal malignancies.
Symptoms of Asbestos-Related Cancers
Symptoms of cancer will vary based on the location of the tumors. Still, there are general symptoms that most with cancer have in common. It’s essential to keep in mind that while these are common symptoms in people with cancer, experiencing these symptoms does not automatically mean a definite diagnosis.
Some general symptoms of cancer can include:
- Changes in the skin:
- Hyperpigmentation (darker skin pigment)
- Yellowish skin and eyes (jaundice)
- Red skin (erythema)
- Itchy skin (pruritus)
- Hair growing more than usual
- Extreme tiredness that doesn’t go away after resting (fatigue)
- Change in bowel habits
- Chronic pain (Ex: back pain for colon or ovary cancers)
- Unexplained weight loss (10 lbs or more)
For pleural mesothelioma, lung or throat cancers, some specific symptoms can include:
- Chronic dry cough or coughing up blood
- Difficulty swallowing or breathing
- Excessive pain in the throat or chest
- Wheezing or shortness of breath
If you experience more than one of these symptoms, it could be time to visit your doctor. After learning your symptoms, they will administer some tests. Once the results come back, your doctor can give you an official medical diagnosis.
Legal Compensation for Cancer Diagnosis Linked to Asbestos
Since scientists labeled asbestos as an official carcinogen, laws and regulations were put in place to protect workers, residents, and other individuals from negligent asbestos exposure. It’s legally the responsibility of the building owner, manager, or contractor to ensure that the worksite or residence is devoid of asbestos and other toxins before allowing people to enter. Asbestos is especially dangerous when its fibers are disturbed. When an asbestos building is slated to be demolished or renovated, an appropriate asbestos removal procedure must be completed by an accredited agency. If not, they could be liable for damages and settlements.
If you find yourself diagnosed with cancer or another illness due to negligent practices and being exposed to asbestos fibers, you may be entitled to financial compensation from the responsible companies. Consulting with a seasoned attorney becomes crucial as they guide you through the optimal approach for initiating a legal claim and seeking the compensation you deserve.