Asbestos and Lung Cancer

Asbestos and Lung Cancer

While lung cancer isn’t as specific of an asbestos-related cancer as mesothelioma, it can still be caused by inhalation of asbestos fibers. An estimated 161,840 people died of lung cancer in 2008, and this number could climb as more and more people develop the disorder even years after they were exposed to asbestos.

Asbestos was a popular substance in the 19th and most of the 20th centuries that was used in everything from vinyl floor tiles to car brake pads. Asbestos is actually fairly beneficial when utilized correctly, because it insulates against heat, flame, chemicals, and degradation. Additionally, it is flexible and has high tensile strength. Despite all these, asbestos has been mostly outlawed because it breaks down into microscopic fibers as it gets older. These fibers can become lodged in your lungs if inhaled, then they contribute to lung cancer.

Lung cancer, like mesothelioma, is like every other cancer that is caused by the spread of improperly dividing cells. Normally, your body’s cells know when they should die and replace themselves, and when they should stop dividing and producing new cells. However, the cause of all cancers is cells that do not know when to stop dividing. They keep reproducing and making more cells, which exponentially increases your amount of cells. This mass growth is called a tumor.

However, while people sometimes mistakenly associate mesothelioma with lung cancer, they are not the same disorder. Mesothelioma attacks the lining of the lungs, as well as the lining of the abdomen and even testes. Lung cancer occurs when tumors proliferate throughout the inner lung tissue itself.

This type of abnormal cell growth typically arises in the epithelial cells. These are the cells that line the airways of the lungs, helping protect your breathing organ from particles that you might inhale. However, asbestos easily shreds into microscopic fibers that can get lodged in the epithelial cells and form nodules, which can grow into cancerous masses. Because epithelial cells line the bronchi and bronchioles, lung cancer is occasionally called bronchogenic carcinomas or bronchogenic cancers.

What makes cancerous growths dangerous is there ability to metastasize. This is in contrast to benign tumors, which are masses of cells that do not spread to other parts of the body. Tumors that metastasize mean that they have the ability to break off into smaller pieces, float through the blood stream, then later anchor themselves somewhere else in the body, where they settle and grow. This is what causes cancer to spread.

Because of the lungs’ close contact with the bloodstream, tumors in these organs can easily spread to the rest of your body. Thus, lung cancer is an extremely deadly form of cancer. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with asbestos-related lung cancer, you may need financial help to aid in your treatment process or make up for loss of wages. For more information, talk to an asbestos lawyer at Williams Kherkher today.


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