Doctors diagnose about 3,000 cases of mesothelioma every year in the United States. This is the most serious of all asbestos related diseases. Mesothelioma is a very aggressive cancer that affects the lungs and the abdomen. Asbestos exposure in the number one cause for this dangerous disease. In its early stages, the disease is sometimes difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are like other respiratory illnesses.
The symptoms include: chest pain, chronic cough and presence of blood in the lung fluid. When the asbestos fibers are inhaled or swallowed, they accumulate in the lining of the lungs and/or abdomen. Over time they create a connective tissue cause cell damage which results in tumor growth. Doctors have not found a cure for mesothelioma, only treatments that will help increase the patient’s life expectancy.
The US Department of Health and Human services and the EPA have classified Asbestos as a known human carcinogen or most commonly known as “a substance that causes cancer”. Lung cancer has the most reported deaths compared to other cancers. Although asbestos related lung cancer is rare, an estimated 4,800 lung cancer deaths were linked to exposure to asbestos.
The problem with the health effects of asbestos exposure is that complications or symptoms do not develop until many years after exposure. In most cases, patients have not been exposed to asbestos for over 15 to 30 years. Since so much time has passed, diseases like lung cancer or mesothelioma are diagnosed at a very late stage.