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The terms “mesothelioma” and “asbestos lung cancer” are often used interchangeably, as both refer to serious lung conditions that are caused by long-term, acute exposure to asbestos. However, not all asbestos-related lung cancers are classified as mesothelioma. It’s important to know the similarities and differences between these conditions if you or a loved one has a history of asbestos exposure. Below, we discuss some of the differences between mesothelioma and asbestos lung cancer and who is at the greatest risk of developing one of these conditions.
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What is Asbestos?
Asbestos encompasses all six silicate compounds that occur in nature. Asbestos fibers are thin and can be easily separated for use in many commercial and industrial applications, from fireproofing to insulation to brake and clutch pads. From the late 1800s to the late 1970s, asbestos was a common type of material used to provide insulation or structural support without increasing a building’s fire risk.
Most manufacturers stopped working with asbestos in 1979, although the EPA didn’t officially ban this substance until 1989.
Unfortunately, the same properties that make asbestos so useful in so many applications can also pose major risks to those who work with or live around asbestos. When asbestos fibers are damaged or become airborne, they may be inhaled. This can cause serious irritation and damage to the lungs and increase the risk of asbestos-related diseases. Over time, asbestos exposure can cause structural changes to the lungs, creating scar tissue and increasing the risk of multiple types of cancer.
What is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a rare type of lung cancer that impacts the mesothelium, or the thin membrane lining the chest cavity. While lung cancer can be caused by a variety of risk factors, from smoking to genetics, most cases of mesothelioma are caused by asbestos exposure. Many cases of mesothelioma may not be diagnosed until the asbestos-related cancer has advanced, as the early symptoms of mesothelioma can mimic other lung conditions like asthma.
What is Asbestos Lung Cancer?
Asbestos lung cancer refers to any other type of lung cancer that is developed after exposure to asbestos. Smoking cigarettes or cigars can increase the risk of developing lung cancer, although non-smokers who are exposed to asbestos are still at higher-than-average risk of cancer. Asbestos also increases the risk of developing non-lung cancers, including ovarian cancer, stomach cancer, and colon cancer.
Who is at Risk of Asbestos Exposure?
Everyone has encountered asbestos at some point in their lives. However, these incidental asbestos exposures aren’t enough to cause disease. Generally, those at risk of asbestos exposure are those who work in asbestos-adjacent industries, including:
- U.S. Veterans
- Auto mechanics and factory workers
- Construction workers
- Demolition workers
- Drywall workers
- Oil refinery workers
- Manufacturing workers
- Maintenance workers
- Insulation workers
- Firefighters and first responders
In most cases, those who develop diseases due to asbestos exposure won’t begin to show signs of illness for decades—sometimes as long as 40 years from the initial effects of asbestos exposure. Even though the symptoms of occupational asbestos exposure are often delayed, lung cancer risk remains high and devastating nonetheless. The earliest signs of asbestos lung cancer or other asbestos-related lung diseases include:
- Shortness of breath
- A chronic or persistent cough
- Blood in sputum or mucus
- Chest pain or tightening
- Trouble swallowing
- Neck or facial swelling
- Nausea or loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Anemia or excessive bruising
If you or a loved one is experiencing any of these symptoms and has been exposed to asbestos in the past, make an appointment with your doctor. Tests like chest X-rays, blood tests, and biopsies can help your doctor determine whether you’re dealing with the early stages of asbestos illness.
Why Do You Need an Experienced Asbestos Attorney?
Asbestos claims are different from other types of personal injury cases. Not all lawyers have expertise when it comes to handling mesothelioma claims, and an experienced mesothelioma attorney can uncover the crucial details surrounding your asbestos exposure. If you’re unclear about your previous risk of exposure, you need a lawyer who will ask the right questions to shed light on additional asbestos exposures you may not be aware of.
Are you sure your health care provider diagnosed your disease correctly? If you have a history of smoking it can be challenging to identify the disease immediately, however, there are still over 1 million asbestos-exposed workers in the U.S. in construction who remain at risk today.
Your attorney will also know who and where to sue for your asbestos exposure. Your likelihood of success will depend on going after the right companies and filing your lawsuit in the right jurisdiction. To recover the maximum compensation available, you’ll want to consult with an attorney that has a proven record of success in litigating mesothelioma claims.
Our Asbestos Lawyers Can Help You Fight Back
The Ferraro Law Firm has helped injured workers and consumers stand up to large companies for decades. Many of the country’s biggest asbestos manufacturers are still in business, and they often try to hide behind large legal teams when injured consumers stand up to them. Few law firms have the skills and resources that it takes to challenge these corporations: The Ferraro Law Firm does.
Over the last 30 years, our asbestos attorneys have helped consumers seek justice against large companies for manufacturing and selling dangerous substances like asbestos. They are prepared to do the same for you.
Contact our asbestos lawyers today for a free legal consultation. Our services are free unless you win your case.