The symptoms of lung cancer include a persistent cough, breathlessness, blood in the sputum (mucus that is coughed up), pain, wheezing and weight loss.
Lung cancer can be caused by a number of factors including asbestos exposure. Studies have shown that all forms of asbestos can cause lung cancer and that the cancers caused by asbestos are not distinguishable from those caused by smoking.
The risk of lung cancer increases in direct proportion to the level of exposure to asbestos dust and airborne particles. Depending on the tumour type, it can begin to grow several years before any symptoms are noticed. Any exposure up until that time can be significant.
It is well known that people who smoke are at an increased risk of developing lung cancer. It is less well known that people exposed to asbestos are also at an increased risk. There is currently no clinical way of distinguishing between lung cancer caused by asbestos and that caused by smoking. Combining the two significantly increases the risk. If there is a 5% risk of developing lung cancer as a result of asbestos exposure and a 10% risk as a result of smoking the combined risk increases to 50%.
If there is a diagnosis of asbestosis (which is a separate asbestos related illness) as well as lung cancer there is a presumption that the lung cancer is attributable to asbestos exposure. As a result of recent studies and research however it is now accepted that asbestos related lung cancer can also occur in people who have not developed asbestosis. The general rule of thumb is that the greater the level of exposure the more likely it is that lung cancer will be attributed to asbestos exposure.
Compensation can be recovered for asbestos related lung cancer if it can be proved to be more likely to be linked to previous asbestos exposure than another course.
This can be a complex area of law. Our specialist team have successfully handled many cases of asbestos related lung cancer including people who have also had a smoking history.