Asbestos fibers can be inhaled and embed into the lungs of those exposed to asbestos. Asbestos fibers are notoriously difficult for the body to breakdown and can exist inside your body for decades, causing harm decades after someone is exposed to asbestos
While cigarette smoking is definitely a significant risk factor for being diagnosed with lung cancer, it is important to know that prior asbestos exposure can also play a significant role in a lung cancer diagnosis. There is a synergistic effect between cigarette smoke and prior asbestos exposure, meaning that both of these toxins working together greatly increase the likelihood of someone being diagnosed with lung cancer.
Asbestos is a natural fiber that is long and thin and nearly indestructible in the human body. It is known by the U.S. government and doctors as a known carcinogen, or cancer causing material. Once embedded into the lungs the asbestos fibers can exist there for decades, causing inflammation and a reaction by your body when it fails to expel or break down the fiber.
To determine if a lung cancer might be caused by asbestos exposure, the Helsinki Criteria can be used to determine the risk factors:
- Latency: Is there more than a 10 year delay between exposure and lung cancer? The development of asbestos related cancers is very slow.
- Does the patient have asbestosis or other asbestos related diseases? This shows their lungs have already reacted negatively to the long term presence of asbestos fibers.
- Does their lung tissue contain asbestos fibers? This proves clearly that asbestos is present in the tissue of the lungs and could be contributing to the development of cancer.
- How much exposure has the patient experienced? Those with the highest exposure to inhaling asbestos have the highest likelihood of developing lung cancer due to asbestos.
What if I smoked?
If you were exposed to asbestos and developed lung cancer, it may be the cause of your lung cancer regardless of whether you smoked tobacco or cigarettes. Obviously smoking tobacco products is another potential cause of lung cancer, but not all lung cancers in patients with a history of smoking are caused by smoking. For patients with a history of both smoking and asbestos exposure it can be determined in many cases that the asbestos exposure was a substantial contributing factor to the lung cancer diagnosis. The prior asbestos exposure made it much more likely that the person would be diagnosed with lung cancer.
If you or a loved one was diagnosed with lung cancer and have been exposed to asbestos, the asbestos fibers you inhaled may have contributed to your lung cancer diagnosis. Our investigators and attorneys can determine from your work history and living history how you were exposed to asbestos, and whether your prior asbestos exposure contributed to your diagnosis. Our mesothelioma and lung cancer lawyers are experienced and will work on your behalf to help you and your family obtain the compensation that you deserve. Contact Levin Simes Abrams today at 415-426-3000 or [email protected]