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What are asbestos-related diseases?

Many people in North Carolina have contracted an asbestos-related disease because of on-the-job exposure to airborne asbestos fibers. This post will summarize the symptoms of the three diseases that are most commonly caused by asbestos product exposure: mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer.

Mesothelioma is cancer that develops in the mesothelium, the tissue that covers the organs in the abdomen. Mesothelioma usually appears in pleura, that portion of the mesothelium that covers the lungs. Mesothelioma is an aggressive deadly form of cancer. Treatment for mesothelioma is available, but the disease is more often than not fatal. The principal risk factor for mesothelioma is exposure to airborne asbestos fibers.

Asbestosis is an inflammation of the lungs caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibers. The fibers are sharp and durable, and once lodged in the lung tissue, they may remain in the lungs for many years. Because the fibers are sharp, they cause scarring of the alveoli, the tiny sacs in the lungs that facilitate the exchange of oxygen for carbon dioxide. The scarring of the alveoli can cause a persistent dry cough, shortness of breath, loss of appetite or weight and chest tightness or pain. Asbestos cannot be cured, but it is not usually fatal.

Lung cancer is usually caused by cigarette smoking, but it can also result from exposure to asbestos fibers. Lung cancer is usually classified according to the appearance of the cancer cells under a microscope: small cell lung cancer and non -small cell lung cancer. The latter term embraces a number of different kinds of lung cancers that behave in similar ways. Modern medicine has developed a large number of treatments for lung cancer, including surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.

Anyone who has received a diagnosis of one or more of these diseases may wish to consult an attorney who specializes in handling claims for damages resulting from exposure to asbestos-containing products. Such a consultation can provide a useful evaluation of the case and an estimate of the likelihood of recovering damages for medical expenses, lost income and pain and suffering.

Source: Mayo Clinic, "Mesothelioma," "Asbestosis," "Lung Cancer," accessed on Nov. 21, 2016

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