Lung cancer is one of the most common types of cancer. Smoking is commonly recognised as the main cause of lung cancer. However, both smokers and non-smokers with a history of heavy asbestos exposure are at risk of developing lung cancer. It is estimated that around 2000 people a year die from lung cancer due to asbestos exposure.
In a large number of cases of lung cancer, the sufferer may also have other asbestos related conditions such as pleural plaques, pleural thickening or asbestosis.
Asbestos induced lung cancer develops as a result of high levels of asbestos exposure. This means that workers whose jobs involved prolonged and heavy exposure to asbestos run the risk of developing lung cancer.
People who worked in the following occupations may be at a high risk of developing lung cancer:
- Asbestos products manufacture
- Spraying asbestos
- Construction workers
- Insulation workers/laggers
- Power station workers
- Railway engineers
The signs and symptoms of asbestos induced lung cancer are exactly the same as lung cancer arising from smoking. It can take anywhere from 10 to 20 years from the initial exposure to asbestos for the symptoms to develop.
Common symptoms of lung cancer include:
- Persistent cough
- Blood in the sputum
- Chest and back pain
- Rapid weight loss
Lung cancer can be slow to develop and often by the time it is diagnosed the cancer may be at an advanced stage. Therefore, if you have been exposed to asbestos in the past and are experiencing any of the above symptoms you should see your GP as soon as possible, who will refer you to your local hospital for further tests.
If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with asbestos related lung cancer you may be entitled to compensation, even if the company you worked for has closed down.
You may also be entitled to other financial assistance or benefits such as Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit, Disability Living Allowance or a payment under the Pneumoconiosis etc (Workers Compensation) Act 1979.