Asbestos Lung Cancer Overview
Lung cancer caused by asbestos has the same symptoms, treatment options, and prognoses as other forms of lung cancer. The only difference is that asbestos fibers are to blame instead of other risk factors.
Asbestos fibers are incredibly sharp, thin, and tiny. In fact, they are often invisible to the naked eye. When a product that contains asbestos is disturbed, the fibers enter the surrounding air. People nearby can inhale these fibers without knowing it.
Once the fibers are in the lungs, they can become embedded in healthy tissue, irritating and inflaming it in the process. Over several years and even decades, this damage may cause pain, scarring, and eventually lung cancer.
Asbestos Lung Cancer Symptoms
Symptoms of asbestos lung cancer are very similar to the symptoms of non-asbestos lung cancer. The long latency period of asbestos-related diseases means that the symptoms will start out mild and get worse over time before they are finally noticed.
Symptoms of asbestos lung cancer include:
- Chest pain
- Persistent cough
- Shortness of breath and lack of oxygen
If you experience any of these symptoms for several weeks and they do not improve, you should see a doctor.
Asbestos Lung Cancer Diagnosis & Prognosis
Asbestos lung cancer is diagnosed through tests that include imaging scans and a biopsy. Imaging scans like X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs can look for tumors inside the lungs. The biopsy removes a tissue sample so doctors can test it for cancer.
An important part of the diagnosis process is telling your doctor about your asbestos exposure. This can help them rule out less-serious diseases and factor in asbestos-related diseases.
A prognosis will vary depending on how far the cancer has spread at the time of diagnosis. Generally speaking, a lung cancer prognosis is quite poor if the cancer has spread to other sites on the body.
Asbestos Lung Cancer Treatment
Asbestos lung cancer is typically treated through surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Doctors will remove cancerous masses and administer treatments to surrounding areas.
It is important to seek medical treatment for lung cancer as soon as possible. Treatment can help prevent it from spreading to other sites. If the cancer spreads too far, surgery may not be an option. In these cases, palliative care can be used to keep the patient comfortable.
Medical expenses associated with treating lung cancer are very expensive. Health insurance may cover some of the cost, but it may not be enough to pay for all your expenses.