Diseases associated with exposure to asbestos fibers claim the lives of far too many Americans every year. Probably the most well-known asbestos-related disease is mesothelioma, a condition of the lining around your internal organs. However, lung cancer is also a real threat to those who have breathed in asbestos fibers, and the earlier you catch this disease, the more likely it is that you will be able to treat it and control its adverse symptoms.
The link between asbestos and lung cancer
Asbestos is a mineral made up of microscopic crystalline structures known as fibers. When these fibers are disturbed, they become airborne, where you can breathe them in. As these fibers embed themselves in the walls of your lungs, your body forms scar tissue around them. Over time, the affected tissue becomes increasingly inflamed and irritated, and cancerous cells result.
If you are a smoker, asbestos exposure can increase the probability of developing lung cancer dramatically – by up to 90 times. However, even if you do not smoke, breathing in asbestos fibers can still make it ten times more likely that you will eventually develop lung cancer.
The early signs of lung cancer
It can be nearly impossible to diagnose lung cancer in its earliest stages, since symptoms typically don’t start until later on. However, once the disease starts to progress and symptoms start to appear, there are a few telltale signs to look out for.
If it is becoming progressively hard to breathe, accompanied by chest pain and a lasting cough, see your doctor immediately. You might also begin coughing up bloody mucus, and you may be more prone than usual to respiratory infections. Occasionally, lung cancer can also cause symptoms in other parts of your body, such as diminished vision, swelling in the face, and pain in the arms and hands.
Asbestos exposure is a tragedy, and the diseases it causes can be devastating in their later stages. If you or someone you know has a history of asbestos exposure, make sure to look out for the warning signs for lung cancer and other asbestos-related illnesses.