Asbestos Cancer Information - Diseases Caused by Asbestos Exposure

Most Common Asbestos Diseases

Asbestos exposure can cause serious diseases, including mesothelioma and asbestos lung cancer. If you breathe asbestos fibers into your lungs, some of the fibers will be deposited in the air passages and on the cells that make up your lungs. Some fibers remain trapped in the lungs, causing severe respiratory damage.

Fibers that clear the lungs are carried away in a layer of mucus to the throat, where they are swallowed into the stomach. They may become stuck in the membranes lining the stomach or intestines, or be distributed throughout the body via the blood. Wherever the fibers are, they have the potential to promote genetic "errors" in cell division that can lead to cancer.

Asbestos Diseases Include Mesothelioma, Asbestos Lung Cancer, and Asbestosis

The most common diseases caused by asbestos exposure are:

  • Malignant Mesothelioma: A rare form of cancer that affects the thin membranes lining the abdomen and chest.
  • Asbestos Lung Cancer: Cancer of the lung. The two most common types of lung cancer are small-cell and non-small cell cancer.
  • Asbestosis: A nonmalignant disease that causes scarring of the lung tissue.
  • Asbestos Pleural Disease: A nonmalignant disease that causes scarring of the thin membranes lining the lung and chest.

Asbestos can also cause cancer of the digestive tract, colon, larynx, esophagus, kidney and some types of lymphoma. These asbestos diseases may be due to swallowing some of the longer asbestos fibers that are caught in the upper airways and that are carried to the throat in mucus.