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Asbestos Caused Diseases

Asbestos related diseases characteristically develop over a long period of time. The first symptoms may not appear for anything from 10-50 years.  Peak mortality rates are expected between the years 2010 and 2020.

The list of diseases include:

  1. Mesothelioma
  2. Asbestosis
  3. Lung Cancer
  4. Laryngeal Cancer
  5. Ovarian Cancer
  6. Testes Cancer
  7. Pleural plaques
  8. Pleural thickening
  9. Pleural effusion

Mesothelioma

Is a  form of cancer of the lining of the lungs and abdomen so far only known to be caused by asbestos. It occurs due to Some inhaled fibres penetrate to the lung walls and cause cancer in the lining of the lung (pleura). If swallowed fibres can penetrate the stomach or bowels and cause cancer in the lining of the abdomen (peritoneum). Mesothelioma has:

  • High association with amphibole asbestos (brown and blue)
  • Can take up to 45 years to develop after initial exposure
  • Extremely aggressive (“Turbo charged”) cancer
  • No relation to smoking
  • Death usually occurs within 6-18 months after diagnosis
  • There is no cure

Mesotheliom cancer encompassing the lungs over a series of xrays.

meso X ray - jim McNulty 

 

Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma
mesopicture
Courtesy: Dr Daniel Sterman USA

Incidents of Mesothelioma in Australia


Asbestosis

Courtesy Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia Inc.

Asbestosis is Fibrosis (Scarring and thickening) of the lung tissue as the result of exposure to asbestos dust. Scars continue to grow and inhibit oxygen transfer to the lung causing increasing difficulty in breathing.

Asbestosis causes:

  1. Total lung volume to be reduced
  2. Shortness of breath, coughing, phlegm and lung infections
  3. Cyanosis (blue skin coloration) through oxygen starvation
  4. Places tremendous strain on the heart muscle
  5. Eventually asbestosis leads to a painful death generally by heart failure
  6. All types of asbestos cause a similar fibrosis
  7. Usually appears 10-20 years after high exposure
  8. Smoking increases the risk of death from asbestosis
  9. It is progressive and does not reverse
  10. There is no treatment

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Pleural Plaques

Pleural Plaques quite common Benign growths that rarely produce symptoms. They are unrelated to appearance of scar tissue. They produce discrete patches of thickening of the lining of the chest wall and diaphrams in the pleural membranes that surround the lungs

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Lung Cancer

Lung Cancer is Very common in the general public and is the most frequent cause of death from cancer, particularly in cigarette smokers. There is a close association between asbestosis and lung cancer (about 50% of people dying from or with asbestosis have a lung cancer at post mortem).
Lung cancer facts;

  1. Asbestos fibres enter the lung and alter the cells
  2. Unless it can be surgically removed very early, it tends to spread by blood and lymph and lead to early death
  3. Smoking greatly increases the risk
  4. May take 20-25 years to develop
  5. Is nearly always fatal

Facts about White Asbestos and Mesothelioma

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