For some basic facts about asbestos-related lung cancer, or bronchogenic carcinoma, we will draw upon an article, “Asbestos: When the Dust Settles—An Imaging Review of Asbestos-related Disease”, which was published in the October 2002 edition of RadioGraphic medical journal.
The link between asbestos exposure and lung cancer has been suspected since the 1930s but was proved in the 1950s.
Amphiboles [(one type of asbestos fiber)] are more potent than chrysotile [(another type of asbestos fiber)] in inducing lung cancer (between 10 and 50 times greater potency has been quoted).
The latent period is variable. Some cases occur less than 10 years after exposure, but the risk is increased until at least 30 years later. One report cited a lag of 50 years.
The exact mechanism of carcinogenesis is unclear. Asbestos-related cancers can occur anywhere in the lungs. The evidence regarding a link between asbestos and a particular histologic type or lobar distribution of lung cancer is somewhat contradictory.
The investigation and staging of asbestos-related lung cancers are the same as for non-asbestos-related cancers. The prognosis is similar to that for non-asbestos-related lung cancers, but the restrictive effect of coexistent asbestosis or diffuse pleural thickening could compromise patients’ respiratory function and fitness for attempted resection.
Asbestos lung cancer cases can be filed as lawsuits against the manufacturers of asbestos-containing products used in the past or their respective asbestos bankruptcy trusts.
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