Maybe your first job while you were in college involved working for a shady home remodeling company. They had you scraping off popcorn ceiling and pulling up old linoleum flooring that contained asbestos without any respiration equipment or coveralls. You didn’t think much of it at the time, but now you worry that you could develop cancer.
Perhaps you have a spouse who worked in Navy shipyards years ago or as an assembly professional in an industrial facility that used asbestos for some of the products manufactured there. You may worry about your spouse’s health or the possibility of secondhand exposure sickening you or other family members.
Asbestos exposure drastically increases the likelihood of individuals developing certain forms of cancer, including mesothelioma and lung cancer. How long will you need to monitor yourself and advise medical professionals of a personal history that involves asbestos exposure?
The risk never fully goes away
For those exposed to some carcinogens, the likelihood of developing cancer drops after exposure ends. For example, those who cease using tobacco products and remain smoke-free for decades eventually have cancer risks relatively comparable to those of non-smokers.
Unfortunately, asbestos is a carcinogen that takes decades to actually cause the growth of cancer. Many people will go at least two decades after their initial asbestos exposure before they develop signs of lung cancer or mesothelioma. For some people, it could be four decades or even longer before doctors are able to diagnose them with an asbestos-related cancer.
You will need to continue monitoring your health or the health of your spouse for the rest of your life if you worry that asbestos exposure might eventually result in cancer. You also need to communicate with medical professionals about the asbestos exposure so that they know to carefully screen you for the illnesses related to this dangerous mineral substance.
Earlier diagnosis can greatly improve someone’s prognosis or at least increase how long they survive with a deadly form of cancer. It can also give the sickened former employee or their family members a better opportunity to pursue compensation for the asbestos-related illness. Monitoring yourself or your loved ones carefully for signs of illness after asbestos exposure can help protect your family medically and financially.