Some personal injury solicitors specialise in asbestos related disease compensation claims including lung cancer related to inhalation of asbestos fibres. They usually offer free initial advice on all matters relating to asbestosis, mesothelioma, pleural plaques and asbestos induced lung cancer. In most cases solicitors are able to deal with all of the legal work involved in an asbestos related lung cancer compensation claim at no cost to their client and pay compensation in full with no deductions. You do not usually have to fund the asbestos cancer compensation claim as it proceeds. If you would like free advice on a personal injury compensation claim for asbestos related lung cancer with no further obligation, just contact a specialist lawyer will discuss your compensation claim over the telephone and tell you how best to proceed to protect your right to claim compensation for personal injury caused by an asbestos related disease.
Lung Cancer Variants
It was in the late 1960s and early 1970s that researchers first discovered that asbestos-related lung cancer existed. Many people exposed to asbestos, a natural mineral substance used in construction, industry and insulation, appeared to develop cancers of the lung, particularly mesothelioma. It was in the 1970s then that most of the uses of asbestos were banned and the subsequent rate of asbestos-related lung cancers declined. Smokers who also have asbestos exposure have a marked increase in the rate of asbestos cancer when compared to control groups.
Mesothelioma is the most common cause of asbestos cancer of the lungs. It affects primarily the lining of the lungs, either at the base of the lungs, between lobes of the lung, or near the ribcage. It looks flat, like a pancake and is very dangerous. There are three types of mesothelioma: 1) that which affects the pleural (lung) tissue, 2) that which affects the lining around the heart (the pericardium), and 3) that which affects the peritoneal tissues of the abdomen. The most common type occurs in the lungs.
There is only one known cause of mesothelioma lung cancer and that is asbestos exposure. Asbestos is a needle-like fiber that enters the lungs and buries itself deeply into the lung tissue until it settles in the pleural lining and irritates the lining enough to cause cancer of the pleural lining. Because the needles are not water soluble and are rigid, nothing can get rid of or encapsulate the fibers so they remain in the lungs forever, leading to asbestos cancer after about 20-50 years post exposure. This means that people exposed in the middle portion of the 20th century are still in the range of possibly getting the cancer.
This type of cancer is most common in plumbers, electricians, shipyard workers, industrial workers and construction workers who put asbestos in as ceiling panels or other insulation materials that create a dust that is inhaled. Because even mild exposure can cause problems, only a few indications for asbestos remain in the industry. Family members exposed to the dust on the clothing or hair of those who worked in industrial areas are also at a risk of getting asbestos-related lung cancer because they must launder the clothing or breathe in the dust when the worker comes home filled with asbestos dust.
Asbestos is mined from the ground and has been used in commercial areas since the late 19th century. It has been used primarily since WWII when many uses of asbestos were created, including cement strengthening, plastic strengthening, roofing, fireproofing, the absorption of sound and insulation. It was commonly used in the shipbuilding industry because it can be used to insulate boilers, insulate hot water pipes and steam pipes. It was also used in the automobile industry for use as brake shoe parts and clutch pads. It has been used in ceiling tiles, floor tiles, and paints. When it was banned in the 1970s, it was hoped that the rate of mesothelioma would go down and, in recent years, this has happened.
The main symptoms of mesothelioma include chest pain, a chronic cough, and shortness of breath particularly on exertion. The diagnosis is made using an x-ray radiograph or a CT scan/MRI scan of the chest. Pleural plaques and x-ray evidence of asbestosis can also be seen at the same time as the mesothelioma.
There is no malignant mesothelioma cure and the prognosis for those who have the disease is quite poor. Surgery, radiation and chemotherapy are often used to attempt to prolong the patient’s life; however, most people ultimately die of the disease. The condition is often not diagnosed until it is in its later stages so not much can be done in terms of cure. Surgery is usually reserved for those who have a chance of a cure due to finding the cancer early. Some aggressive therapies have been defined that include removing part of a lobe of the lung along with the pericardium, the pleural lining and the diaphragm. This is markedly aggressive but can save some people.
Mesothelioma isn’t the only asbestos-related lung cancer. Adenocarcinoma of the lung is also linked to exposure to asbestos. When one takes into account all asbestos-related lung cancers, it is estimated that hundreds of cases of lung cancer are discovered each year in Ireland as a result of asbestos exposure.
Similar to mesothelioma, those that come down with asbestos-related adenocarcinoma do not get it right away. It takes several decades to develop the disease after the exposure to asbestos. Most of these people also suffer from asbestosis or scar tissue on the lungs from chronic asbestos exposure. About 1/7th of all people with asbestosis will develop asbestos-related lung cancer. Most also have pleural plaques, which have no symptoms, but which show up on x-ray by virtue of being calcified.
Asbestos exposure and smoking are a bad combination that is often lethal to those who exposed to both types of carcinogens. Either can cause a person to have lung cancer but, when taken together, smoking and asbestos have a synergistic effect that makes the chances of getting lung cancer astronomically high. For example, someone with a 20 pack-year history (one pack a day for twenty years) has a ten times risk of getting lung cancer. Those who just are exposed to asbestos but do not smoke have a 5 fold increase of getting lung cancer when compared to those who were not exposed to asbestos.
Unfortunately, those with a 20 pack a year history who were also exposed significantly to asbestos are known to have a 50-90 fold risk of getting lung cancer when compared to those who were exposed to neither carcinogen. The risk, as you can see, is synergistic. Because both are necessary to cause lung cancer, you may be eligible for compensation even if you were a smoker at some point in your life.
In addition, because of these findings, the National Cancer Institute recommends that all smokers who are also exposed to asbestos quit smoking to avoid the high risk of getting adenocarcinoma of the lung or mesothelioma. The risks of getting lung cancer in those who quit smoking for at least five years and who were exposed to asbestos dropped in some studies by 50 percent.