Prolonged asbestos exposure in Illinois may cause mesothelioma, a rare cancer that occurs in the lining of the lungs, heart, or stomach. Asbestos is a natural substance made of flexible fibers still used in many products today, including vinyl tiles and insulation. Aside from mesothelioma, asbestos exposure has also been linked to several other diseases.
Asbestos diseases fall into two categories: malignant and non-malignant. Asbestos-related lung cancer is a malignant type of disease, but it only accounts for about 20% of lung cancer cases.
It still remains the most fatal of lung cancers, though. It caused over 155,000 deaths in 2017, according to the National Institutes of Health. Smoking combined with asbestos exposure increases the risk for lung cancer. Some signs of lung cancer include shortness of breath, coughing blood, weight loss and fatigue.
Asbestosis is a non-malignant disease that occurs from the fibers scarring the lung tissue. It commonly develops after long-term high exposure and has a latency period of 20 years.
Though a non-malignant disease, asbestosis can still be fatal without treatment. Shortness of breath may occur when the alveolar walls of the lung thicken. Some other symptoms may include wheezing, persistent coughing and pain or tightness in the chest.
Asbestos has been linked to laryngeal cancer from fibers getting trapped in the larynx and causing malignant tumors to form. If left untreated, it could spread to other areas of the body and cause vocal damage.
Smoking, poor diet and alcohol use increase the risk of laryngeal cancer. Symptoms usually include neck or throat lumps, persistent ear pain, recurring cough or sore throat and hoarseness.
Despite regulations, many workers still risk getting asbestos-related diseases. When a person thinks that their employer exposed them to asbestos and caused the issue, a lawyer may be able to help them negotiate a fair settlement.