How Does Asbestos Exposure Cause Cancer

Over the past few decades, a common cause of certain cancer diagnoses from a private oncologist is exposure to asbestos.

This was highlighted in recent months by a request by MPs and an asbestos support group for a donation to fund research into terminal cancers directly caused by asbestos from a major manufacturer of the substance after it was revealed that they knew about the dangers earlier than they claimed.

Asbestos is a contributor to a cancer of the lung and stomach lining known as mesothelioma, which can cause serious shortness of breath, fatigue, swollen fingertips and serious chest pains, develops decades after asbestos exposure and is believed to be terminal.

The fibrous material was used as a form of fireproof insulation for decades and is typically safe when left alone, but once damaged releases a cloud of fine dust that if inhaled can cause gradual damage to the lung lining over time, scarring the lung tissue in the process as part of a related disease known as asbestosis.

Given the gradual way both diseases develop, there is believed to be no cure and no way to reverse the damage to the lungs. As a result, care is instead focused on controlling the symptoms and ensuring people live as long as possible.

Whilst the use of asbestos as a building material was outlawed in 1999, there are still many buildings that have it, including, according to a government survey in 2019, over 80 per cent of schools, with the removal of the material a slow process.

This means that the UK has the highest rates of asbestosis and mesothelioma in the world, despite the fact that according to leaked documents, manufacturers were aware of the potential dangers of even slight exposure, lobbying for reduced product warnings and higher dust limits.

People who have been exposed to asbestos are entitled to compensation as part of a compensation scheme.