Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral element composed of silicon and oxygen that is fibrous in nature and is found in rocks and beneath the soil in many parts of the world. It has the ability to resist heat and is mostly used for the manufacture of roofing materials, resistors, and fireproofing.
There are just two forms of asbestos, namely the cryotile (serpentine) and the amphibole asbestos.
Crysotile asbestos is whitish in colour and is mostly used for industrial manufacturing. Its spiral structures when checked under a microscope give it other names like “curly” or “serpentine” asbestos.
Amphibole asbestos has a straight and pin-like fibre structure and is of different types; tremolite, actinolite, crocidolite, and anthrophilite.
Both forms of asbestos pose a one to risk of cancer. Because of their high heat resistance, asbestos are very useful in a variety of manufacturing fields. They are used to produce insulators and other electrical appliances, automobile parts, cement, and roofing materials. Fibrous asbestos is also used in the making of clothing materials, tiles, and lots of other manufactured products.
How Can One Become Exposed To Asbestos?
You can get prone to a risk of cancer when asbestos enters the body, either by inhalation or swallowing.
Inhalation occurs when materials made of asbestos begin to decompose and decay. It may cause the material to form dust. This dust when being mistakenly inhaled into the body. It might cause one to be at risk of getting cancer.
This can occur when materials composed of asbestos enter one’s food or water and it’s consumed. It can also penetrate when you cough out the asbestos dust you inhaled and lick your saliva.
Where In The World Is Asbestos Found?
Asbestos as a mineral is found in different parts of the world. The largest deposits are found in Russia, China, and the United States. These countries control the importation of asbestos throughout the world. These poisonous elements are also mined across North America.
Asbestos deposits are mostly found in large deposits or as contaminats in other elements like vermiculite or talcum powder.
What Type Of Cancer Can Asbestos Exposure Cause?
We’ve been mentioning asbestos in recent lines of this post. I guess you want to know what kind of cancer we’ve been talking about.
Well, based on the International Agency for Research On Cancer’s(IARC) findings, asbestos can cause 4 different kinds of cancer diseases. Mesothelioma, lung cancer, cancer of the larynx, and cancer of the ovaries. It can also cause other non-cancerous diseases and illnesses. These include pleuritis, pleural plaques, COPD, and a few others.
Mesotheliomas is a cancer disease that’s solely caused by exposure to asbestos. It attacks the human abdomen and lungs. When one is exposed to asbestos, the fiber will lodge in the mesothelium, thus causing it to weaken and lead to mesothelioma cancer.
Asbestos can penetrate the body and be transported down to the human ovaries through the human blood, reproductive system, and lymph.
Scientists are still researching how asbestos fibrous powder causes cancer of the ovaries.
Asbestos can cause cancer of the lungs when its fibre enters the tissues in the lungs. At least 10 years or even more, cancer of the lungs caused by asbestos takes a very long time for its symptoms to manifest. Also, smoking can aid the asbestos in the lung tissues to develop into cancer.
When asbestos fibre enters and is transported into the lung, some good portion of it might penetrate the voice box through tissues in the larynx. Excessive alcohol, smoking, and exposure to harmful and poisonous substances can lead to asbestos causing laryngeal cancer.
Though some scientific research believes asbestos can cause other types of cancers like cancer of the breast, colon cancer, and stomach cancer, But the International Agency For Research On Cancer (IARC), which is a body part of the World Health Organisation, only attributes the 4 types of cancer listed as the only asbestos-causing cancer.
Other Serious Asbestos-Causing Diseases
Aside from the four cancers identified by the IARC as being caused by asbestos exposure, There are other diseases that exposure to asbestos might cause you to have. They include leukemia, prostate cancer, breast cancer, kidney cancer, and cancer of the pharynx.
Some Benign Asbestos-Causing Illnesses
Exposure to asbestos can also cause other illnesses that are not too dangerous.
-Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
Getting symptoms of asbestos cancer doesn’t have to mean you have cancer. Luckily, you might even be diagnosed with non-malignant asbestos-causing illnesses like the afformentions. But some benign situations might actually be a sign of a malignant one. For example, pleural mesothelioma might result from pleural effusion.
How Does Asbestos Cause Cancer?
You are prone to the risk of getting cancer through asbestos, either by inhalation or indirect swallowing of microscopic asbestos fibers. If you inhaled asbestos fibre, maybe as dust. Once it enters, it cannot be extracted from the body. Hence, causing inflammation or irritation.
It takes a myriad of years for symptoms of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos to show up. Actually, scientists researched that for you to know you have lung cancer or mesothelioma, which are both caused by asbestos fiber, it takes a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of 50 years.
First, your body tends to develop genetic mutations, thereby leading to cancer. No amount of asbestos fiber is safe enough to help you from getting cancer.
Most cancer patients are often old people between the ages of 50 and 60 years and above.
Symptoms Of Asbestos Cancer
The different symptoms of asbestos-caused cancer vary depending on the type of cancer or illness. Many of them involve;
-General weakness of the body
-Swallowing substance becomes difficult.
How Asbestos Cancer Is Formed In The Body?
Cancer can be gotten from asbestos fibre when it penetrates the body through either mitosis or mutation.
When asbestos has penetrated the body, cells become mutated and react with nitrogen and oxygen in the body.
Once asbestos fiber enters the body, it starts fighting the cell wall to cause damage to the DNA cells, hindering mitosis and thereby causing mutated ones to break instead of the healthy ones. The more it is broken, the more cancer spreads.
Factors That Can Help Asbestos Cancer In The Body
Scientists and research experts have proven that there are some actions that actually aid the development of cancer when one has already been exposed to asbestos fibers, either from the workplace, home or through another person that’s been exposed to asbestos.
So it’s very important that you stay away from all these factors if you know you’ve been exposed to asbestos fiber:
3.Excessive intake of alcohol
4.Lack of medical attention
All these factors, when taken into consideration, might literally reduce your risk of getting cancer after you’ve been exposed to asbestos. But more importantly, it’s best you visit a hospital to see a doctor after you have been exposed to asbestos fiber. It is believed that if detected early enough, before the symptoms appear. The treatment becomes easier and improves the prognosis.
Once you start seeing symptoms of cancer caused by asbestos, the very first thing you should do is visit a hospital so you can be properly tested and diagnosed.
First, your medical history will be checked to see if you’ve once had similar symptoms before. Plus, they will check and analyse your symptoms to see which cancer you are at risk of getting. Then your blood sample might be tested to finally determine the nature and type of cancer it is.
An x-ray scan will also be conducted on you to see parts which might have been damaged before a biopsy is conducted to check if the tissues affected have become weak or still healthy.
You should make it a priority to immediately visit the hospital to be diagnosed and start treatment. Also, you should open up to the doctor about how many times, where, and when you’ve been exposed to asbestos fiber.
Treatment of Asbestos Cancer
Asbestos cancer treatment varies and depends on the patient’s age, stage, symptoms, and type of cancer
Most cancers caused by asbestos are treated by radiation surgery and chemotherapy. However, experimental treatments can also be tried.
Patients with mesothelioma may be treated through surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.
During surgery, affected tumours are extracted to prevent further spread to other parts. For chemotherapy, certain powerful drugs are administered to fight the cancer. Radiation involves using energy rays to directly fight cancer.
Lung cancer patients can also be treated by surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. Targeted therapy may also be adopted whereby the patient takes pills and other powerful drugs to contain the tumor from further spreading to other areas of the body.
You are expected to visit a doctor immediately if any symptoms show up to prevent further spread of the cancer tumor. And also, early detection and treatment of cancer is best.