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How Does Asbestos Cause Cancer

Asbestos Removals Marlborough investigates how this toxic material causes cancer and what types of cancer can develop after exposure.

It’s no secret that asbestos is a highly toxic material that many countries around the globe are currently attempting to eradicate in the home and office setting. Once hailed as a hero material due to its durability and heat-resistant qualities, today, countries worldwide are battling to remove this product from many buildings and homes.

Asbestos belongs to a group of six natural minerals made up of flexible fibres. These fibres are renowned for being highly heat resistant and possessing anti-corrosive properties. This made the fibre incredibly versatile and valuable for many industries worldwide. From a wonderful insulator to allowing plastic and even cement to become stronger. Understandably the world went crazy and utilised this fibre in many different scenarios.

Sadly, as the popularity grew for this hero fibre, so did the cancer diagnosis rate, particularly for those that worked closely with asbestos. Unfortunately, it was too late once the research was in, and asbestos was deemed dangerous. This toxic fibre had already reached every corner of the globe, from homes and offices to clothing and make-up. Exposing the vast population to the threat of cancer.

How Does Asbestos Get Into the Body?

Asbestos, when disturbed, releases tiny dust particles that are easily inhaled or ingested. These fibres become trapped inside the body and, over a long period, can lead to inflammation and illness. Some fibres may be naturally excreted by the body from coughing, however, those fibres that stay behind become embedded in the lungs or digestive tract and can lead to cancer and other illnesses.

Cancers Caused by Asbestos

Mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer that can develop tumours in the lungs, heart, and stomach lining. It is almost exclusively linked to asbestos exposure, with an approximate life expectancy after diagnosis of only 12 months. There is no known cure for Mesothelioma. Treatments available focus solely on extending life. Symptoms span from respiratory problems, digestive issues, throat pain, and reproductive system issues.

Four Types of Mesothelioma

Pleural Mesothelioma - is the most common form of Mesothelioma and forms in the lining of the lungs. Asbestos exposure can cause irritation and inflammation of the lungs, leading to disease. Typically, it can take from 20 to 40 years after exposure to develop this form of Mesothelioma.

Symptoms of Pleural Mesothelioma include:

  • Chest pain

  • Dry, irritated persistent cough

  • Fatigue

  • Night sweats

  • Shortness of breath

  • Fluid in the lungs

Peritoneal Mesothelioma - A rare and aggressive cancer that forms in the abdomen and can be caused by the inhalation or ingestion of asbestos. Affects the thin and delicate lining of the stomach.

Symptoms of Peritoneal Mesothelioma include:

  • Abdominal pain

  • Swelling of the stomach/abdomen region

  • Nausea

  • Weight loss

  • Diarrhea

  • Fatigue

Pericardial Mesothelioma – forms in the soft tissue and lining around the heart, known as the Pericardium. This cancer can also be caused by ingestion or inhalation of asbestos fibres.

Symptoms of Pericardial Mesothelioma include:

  • Irregular heartbeat

  • Chest pain

  • Breathing difficulty

Testicular Mesothelioma – The less common form of cancer caused by asbestos, Testicular Mesothelioma forms in the membrane of the testicle.

Symptoms of Testicular Mesothelioma include:

  • Painful swelling of the testicles

  • Fluid build-up

Other cancers linked to asbestos exposure include Laryngeal and Ovarian cancers.

What is Asbestosis

Asbestosis is a chronic lung condition caused directly by inhaling asbestos fibres and dust. Leading to tissue scarring and damage. Like asbestos-related cancers, this disease doesn’t appear until long after exposure. Symptoms include a persistent dry cough, shortness of breath, and chest pain. Clubbing toes and fingers are also a symptom of this disease.

How Long After Asbestos Exposure Do You Get Sick?

It can take 10 to 40years after asbestos exposure to start showing any disease symptoms. This is why asbestos was still readily used for decades until the link between cancer and this toxic fibre became obvious. However, many people worldwide are still diagnosed with asbestos-related disease and illnesses from exposure in their younger years. If you suspect you have been exposed to asbestos fibres or dust, it is highly advised to seek medical advice from a licensed doctor.

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