National Lung Cancer Awareness Month
During the month of November, mesothelioma and asbestos-caused lung cancer receive public attention as the country honors National Lung Cancer Awareness Month.
Lung cancer is currently the leading cause of cancer death in both men and women. The cancer causes more deaths than the next three most common cancers – colon, breast and prostate – combined. Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, but exposure to asbestos is also a known cause of lung cancer. In fact, asbestos exposure is known to cause a range of lung diseases, including asbestosis and mesothelioma cancer.
Malignant mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Approximately 2000 to 3000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with the cancer each year. Similar to other asbestos-related diseases, mesothelioma has a severe latency period in terms of the development of symptoms. In most cases, patients with mesothelioma will not experience symptoms until at least 20 years have passed since their initial exposure to asbestos.
The rare cancer does not respond well to current mesothelioma treatment methods and researchers across the world have conducted many studies in an effort to better understand the disease and develop more effective treatments. There are no cures for these cancers and the current five-year survival rate for mesothelioma patients is around 10 percent and the present lung cancer survival rate is 15.6 percent.
According to the National Cancer Institute, “Smoking does not appear to increase the risk of mesothelioma. However, the combination of smoking and asbestos exposure significantly increases a person’s risk of developing cancer of the air passageways in the lung.”
Additionally, the American Lung Association reports “The combination of asbestos exposure and smoking greatly increases the risk of developing lung cancer. Nonsmoking asbestos workers are five times more likely to develop lung cancer than non smokers not exposed to asbestos; if they also smoke, the risk factor jumps to 50 or higher. Environmental exposures also can increase the risk of lung cancer death.”
Additional information about mesothelioma and asbestos induced lung cancer may be found through the Mesothelioma Center.