Asbestos and Cancer
Many people believe that exposure to asbestos always leads to cancer. This belief, however, is untrue. While asbestos exposure may cause people to inhale asbestos fibers that could cause cancer, not all people who are exposed to asbestos go on to develop cancer.
How Does Asbestos Lead to Cancer?
Airborne asbestos fibers are dangerous to humans when they are inhaled. Once these fibers enter the body, they cannot be expelled and eventually penetrate body tissues, such as the lung tissue. Once exposed to internal body tissues, the fibers cause inflammation, thereby increasing the chances of cancer.
Although asbestos fibers can cause multiple types of cancer, the most common is a cancer that forms in the lining of the lungs, which known as the mesothelioma. Other common areas of cancer contraction include the linings of the tissues surrounding the abdomen and heart.
The Delay between Asbestos Exposure and Signs of Cancer
In most cases, cancer occurs about 10 to 20 years after asbestos exposure. Because of the delay, patients often have difficulty identifying the asbestos source.
Many people working in areas with relatively high asbestos density never contract the asbestos-related cancers. Studies, however, suggest that people who are exposed to asbestos more frequently have a better chance of contracting an asbestos-related cancer, such as mesothelioma, asbestosis, or lung cancer.
If you have any questions regarding asbestos and cancer, fill out the contact form on the Mesothelioma & Asbestos Help Center web site.