How Does Asbestos Cause Injury?

Asbestos poses a serious health concern when it is inhaled by either a worker around the asbestos fibers in the air or by individuals who are exposed to that worker’s clothes or garments which may contain asbestos fibers have been inhaled they are not and cannot be processed by the human body. Instead, the fibers remain lodged in the individual’s lungs and never dissipate or become otherwise processed by the body. Instead the fibers can accumulate and cause scarring on the lungs. The very qualities of fire resistance and durability which made asbestos a superior industrial product are also the properties which prevent the human body from assimilating or processing the fibers.

Asbestos related medical conditions
Pulmonary fibrosis associated with asbestos

The term pulmonary fibrosis refers to general scarring of an individual’s lungs. Many physicians will diagnose pulmonary fibrosis to describe a condition which has actually been caused by asbestos fibers. Only a trained physician who knows how to correctly distinguish generalized fibrosis from the more specific “asbestosis” can truly determine if the individual is suffering from general fibrosis which could be caused by smoking and other sources or asbestosis which is specifically scarring of the lungs caused by asbestos.

Asbestosis

Asbestosis is the term given to an individual who has confirmed asbestos fibers
contained within his lungs. The condition “asbestosis” describes the a severe irritation of person’s lungs caused by the presence of asbestos fibers within a person’s lungs. Typically this individual will also be diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis which is a more general term commonly used to describe the asbestosis condition will generally cause this type of scarring.

Lung Cancer

Many individuals who have worked around asbestos are ultimately diagnosed with lung cancer. There are two important points in regard to asbestos exposed workers who are diagnosed with lung cancer.

Most importantly, many physicians will describe mesothelioma of the lungs as simply ‘lung cancer’. In fact, if the cancer is of the mesothelioma which indicates it was caused by asbestos inhalation. It is very important for a patient to have a clear and very specific diagnosis if he has been told he has ‘lung cancer’. The physician should be asked in what area of the lungs is the cancer, or what type of lung cancer exists? Your doctor may refer to the mesothelial membrane or he may just refer to ‘asbestos cancer’. Unfortunately today many physicians are very reluctant to mention the words ‘asbestos’ or ‘mesothelioma’ to a patient for fear the patient will pursue legal remedies, and thus the doctor will have to become a witness in the patient’s case.

Additionally, even if the individual has non-mesothelioma lung cancer, in smokers or former smokers the existence of asbestos in the person’s lungs will greatly increase the likelihood of non-asbestos cancer. In other words, even if ‘asbestos’ cancer does not exist, asbestos may have significantly (by many times) increased the likelihood that the person would suffer from ‘traditional’ lung cancer. Anyone who has ever worked around asbestos and is ultimately diagnosed with lung cancer should consider if asbestos contributed to the lung cancer without fully exploring if the existence of asbestos in the lungs may have greatly contributed to lung cancer. Physicians will often provide the general diagnosis of lung cancer without fully exploring if the existence of asbestos in the lungs may have greatly contributed to the cancer, the assumption being that the cancer related solely to the individual’s prior history of smoking.

Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is very specific term used to describe asbestos related cancer that can occur in generally 4which are very thin membranes that surround the lungs, heart, stomach and testical. The most common form of mesothelioma occurs in the lungs. This is due to the inhalation of asbestos fibers. Mesothelioma can also occur in the heart area (pericardium), the stomach area (peritoneal) and the testicals (testicular mesothelioma).

If an individual has received a diagnosed of mesothelioma, any qualified physician providing this diagnosis should alert the patient that the cancer is directly related to his past asbestos exposure. Mesothelioma is caused by asbestos. Therefore, a diagnosis of mesothelioma should alert the individual that his cancer is directly related to his past asbestos exposure. This individual may have a significant claim for damages against his former employers and/or the manufactures of the asbestos product. This is especially true if the individual worked offshore or in the oil drilling industry during the 1960’s to the 1980’s when pure asbestos was often used in the drilling muds.
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