Asbestos-Related Disorders (cont.)

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What are the types of asbestos-related lung disease?

Lung disease from exposure to asbestos can be divided into three main types: 1) asbestosis, 2) disease of the lining of the lung (pleura), and 3) lung cancer.

  1. Asbestosis is a process of widespread scarring of the lungs.
  2. Disease of the lining of the lungs, called the pleura, has a variety of signs and symptoms and is the result of inflammation and the hardening (calcification) and/or thickening of the lining tissue.
  3. Lung cancer, either of the internal portions of the lungs or the outer lining (pleura).

All of the commonly available commercial forms of asbestos have been linked to cancerous and non-cancerous lung disease.

Asbestos-related lung disease occurred at very high rates toward the middle of the 20th century, when patients who were exposed decades earlier to asbestos eventually developed disease. British asbestos workers were among the first who were observed to have lung cancer related to asbestos.

Most current patients were once exposed to asbestos in:

  • mines,
  • mills,
  • factories, or
  • homes with asbestos, either in the process of carrying, installing, or removing asbestos, or while cleaning items laden with asbestos dust.

Some workers have been exposed to high concentrations of asbestos in:

  • automotive repair,
  • boilermaking,
  • construction,
  • pipefitting,
  • launderers of asbestos-containing clothing.

Continuing sources of exposure are asbestos removal and general construction industries. The delay between exposure to asbestos and the development of cancer can be anywhere from 10 to 40 or more years.

Despite not using asbestos in construction materials for the last 30 years, the number of deaths from asbestosis has increased over the past two decades. A 2009 study to assess the incidence of asbestos-related deaths concluded that the death rate is not expected to decrease sharply in the next 10 to 15 years. The World Health Organization reported in 2010 that more than 107,000 people die each year from asbestos-related lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis resulting from exposure at work.

Cases of asbestos exposure have been seen in the World Trade Center rescue and recovery workers.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/16/2013

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Asbestos - Asbestiosis Signs Question: What were the signs and symptoms of asbestiosis in you or someone you know?
Asbestos - How to Limit Exposure Question: If you've worked with asbestos, what is the best way to limit exposure?
Asbestos - Asbestiosis Diagnosis Question: What types of tests or exams led to a diagnosis of asbestiosis?
Asbestos - Asbestiosis Treatment Question: What forms of treatment have you received for asbestiosis? Did you quit smoking?
Asbestos - Pleural Disease Question: Please describe how you or your loved one deals with asbestos-related pleural disease.

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