Asbestos Cancers

Asbestos cancer is a general term for a variety of cancers caused by exposure to asbestos.

Malignant mesothelioma, a rare cancer of the membranes that line the chest (pleural mesothelioma) and abdomen (peritoneal mesothelioma), is nearly always attributable asbestos exposure. Asbestos lung cancer is the most common type of cancer attributed to asbestos exposure. Colon, rectal, colorectal, laryngeal, and throat cancers have also been associated with asbestos exposure.

Although it is not cancer, asbestosis is a severe scarring of the lung tissue caused by inhaling asbestos. Despite not being cancer, asbestosis can be severe and debilitating. If you have asbestosis, it is clear you have had past asbestos exposure, and therefore should be aware of an increased risk of developing an asbestos-related cancer.

What cancers are caused by asbestos?

Mesothelioma Asbestos Cancer or Mesothelioma Lung Cancer?

Some people call mesothelioma "asbestos cancer" because the only known cause of mesothelioma is asbestos. However, the term "asbestos cancer" can also refer to other cancers, such as a case of asbestos-induced lung cancer or asbestos-related colon cancer.

Another often-confused aspect of mesothelioma is that it is lung cancer. Mesothelioma, or in the case of this confusion it would be more accurate to say pleural mesothelioma, arises out of the lining of the chest cavity called the pleura or pleural lining. Pleural mesothelioma may affect lung function, as it is the job of the pleural lining to permit movement between the lungs, diaphragm, and other organs as they function (think of the expansion and contraction of the lungs as the breathe in and expel air).

Almost two-thirds of the diagnosed cases affect the pleural lining, which surrounds the lungs. In actuality, this cancer resides outside the lungs in the lining of the chest cavity (pleura, from which pleural mesothelioma derives its name).

What is asbestos?

Asbestos is a fibrous mineral that has been used widely in everyday products because it won't conduct electricity and is heat and chemical resistant. These asbestos fibers, when loose, can easily be inhaled or swallowed, and remain in the body for years, eventually resulting in an asbestos-related cancer.

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