Asbestos Lung Cancer Among Workers
Exposure to asbestos increases the risk of developing lung cancer. Importantly, asbestos exposure and smoking act together to produce a huge risk of lung cancer in people exposed to both hazards.
Asbestos Lung Cancer Explained
Most asbestos lung cancer starts in the lining of the bronchi, the tubes into which the windpipe divides.
It can also develop in the trachea, bronchioles (small branches of the bronchi), or alveoli (lung air sacs). Although lung cancer usually develops slowly, once it occurs, cancer cells can break away and spread to other parts of the body.
The two most common types of lung cancer are:
- small cell lung cancer (SCLC) where the cancer cells are small and round
- non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) where the cancer cells are larger
Sometimes a cancer features both types and is called mixed small cell/large cell cancer.
Non–small cell lung cancer accounts for almost 80 per cent of lung cancers. Small cell lung cancer accounts for about 20 per cent of all lung cancers.
Although the cancer cells are small, they can multiply quickly and form large tumors. The tumors can spread to the lymph nodes and to other organs.
Early–stage asbestos lung cancer may be asymptomatic (without symptoms). The methods used to diagnose asbestos lung cancer include imaging tests, biopsies, and taking phlegm (spit) samples.
Browse our recent asbestos lung cancer cases.
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