Other asbestos related diseases
Although exposure to asbestos is most commonly associated with mesothelioma, individuals who worked around asbestos and their loved ones may also be at risk for a number of serious and potentially deadly diseases.
Asbestosis is a lung condition caused by prolonged asbestos exposure. Inhaling asbestos fibers can cause scarring of the lung tissue, which can cause it to stiffen and lead to difficulty breathing. This is a form of pulmonary fibrosis. Some potential asbestosis symptoms include shortness of breath, coughing, chest pain, clubbing of the fingers and problems with physical activity. Although individuals who have worked around asbestos for at least 10 years are at the greatest risk for developing asbestosis, many workers do not begin to develop symptoms until 20 to 30 years after their first exposure.
About one in seven people who develop asbestosis eventually develop lung cancer. Regular exposure to asbestos can increase the risk of developing lung cancer by five times. Symptoms of lung cancer can include cough, chest pain and problems breathing. In addition, asbestos exposure can also increase the risk of several other types of cancer, including kidney, esophageal, gallbladder, throat gastrointestinal and colorectal cancers.
In addition to mesothelioma, exposure to asbestos can increase the risk of a number of benign diseases of the pleura—the thin lining that surrounds the lungs—including asbestos pleurisy, pleural plaque, pleural thickening and rounded atelectasis. Patients with benign pleural diseases may experience symptoms similar to those of other asbestos-related diseases—such as cough or breathing problems—and others, such as rales (a dry, crackling sound when inhaling).
Other types of cancer
Some studies have linked asbestos exposure to an increased risk of colorectal and gastrointestinal cancers. Some evidence suggests that asbestos may also be associated with throat, esophagus, kidney and gallbladder cancers. However, there is currently no conclusive evidence linking these forms of cancer to asbestos.