What Types of Cancer are Caused by Asbestos?

Asbestos is a naturally-occurring, fibrous mineral once used in many products due to its ability to resist heat. It was used for decades in textile products, automotive parts, home and commercial buildings, naval ships, and more. If asbestos is disturbed, the fibers become airborne resulting in inhalation or ingestion. Over time, these fibers can eventually cause life-threatening diseases and cancers, often unknown to the individual until decades later due to latency periods.

There is no “safe” level of exposure to asbestos; even minimal levels can cause the following asbestos-related diseases:


Mesothelioma is an incurable, aggressive cancer in which cells grow without control or order and spread along the surface of internal organs. The most common areas for mesothelioma cancer to develop are:

  • Serosal Membranes surrounding the lungs (pleura), known as pleural mesothelioma
  • Serosal Membranes lining the abdominal cavity (peritoneum), known as peritoneal mesothelioma
  • Serosal Membranes surrounding the heart (pericardium), known as pericardial mesothelioma
  • Serosal Membranes surrounding the testicles (scrotum), known as gonadal mesothelioma

The risk of developing mesothelioma from asbestos exposure is dose dependent-the greater the asbestos exposure, the greater the risk of developing mesothelioma. Even after a diagnosis, many people do not know what mesothelioma is, let alone the treatment options that exist. Advances have been made in gene therapy and alternative treatments. Respected doctors and experts at medical centers across the country are continually coming up with the latest treatments, but a cure remains elusive.

Lung Cancer

Asbestos is considered a major cause of lung cancer. Asbestos exposure combined with smoking greatly increases the risk of developing lung cancer. If you inhale both of these substances, you run a greater risk of disease than if you were exposed to either substance alone due to the synergistic effect of the two carcinogens acting together. Because the likelihood of contracting lung cancer is dose-dependent, every exposure to these deadly substances increases your disease potential.


Asbestos causes scarring of lung tissue and inflammation leading to a noncancerous, scarring disease called asbestosis. Inhaled asbestos fibers reach the air sacs (alveoli) where oxygen is transferred into the blood. The lung’s immune system attempts to remove the foreign asbestos fibers with scavenger white blood cells (macrophages). In attempting to break down the asbestos fibers, the macrophages are ruptured and killed, attracting a scarring cell known as fibroblasts to the site. The result is the formation of scar tissue in the lungs, reducing the lung’s ability to deliver oxygen to the blood and remove carbon dioxide.

Other Cancers

Exposure to asbestos also contributes to various other cancers such as colon cancer, kidney cancer, Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and more.

Asbestos Exposure Often Happens in the Workplace

Asbestos exposure is common among those who work in the trades or do manual labor. If you or a loved one were exposed to asbestos during the course of private employment and received a diagnosis of mesothelioma, lung cancer, or asbestosis, you may be eligible for compensation. Here at Brayton Purcell LLP, we have represented thousands of individuals affected by asbestos. We are ready to help you start filing your claim today. Take the first step by calling 800-598-0314.