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Today (1 August) is World Lung Cancer Day, which is observed every year to shine a light on lung cancer and the millions of people affected by it.
Lung cancer is the third most common cancer in the UK, with an average of around 34,800 deaths and 48,500 new cases every year. However, up to 79% of these cases are thought to be preventable. While the majority of these are caused by smoking, occupational exposure to asbestos is linked to 6-8% of lung cancer deaths annually.
Asbestos health risk
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was used in industries including construction, manufacturing, shipbuilding and the railways throughout the 20th century. When it is disturbed or damaged it releases dust in the form of tiny particles which can cause serious damage to the body if they are inhaled.
Although the use of asbestos was banned by the 1990s, it often takes decades for serious illnesses to develop. This means that thousands of people who were exposed at work many years ago are only now being diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases.
What is asbestos-related lung cancer?
Asbestos-related lung cancer is a cancer that develops within the lung when asbestos fibres are breathed in and become attached to lung tissues. Tumour ‘nodules’ then develop, and often spread out from the lungs to other organs later in the cancer’s development.
It is estimated that there are similar yearly numbers of asbestos-related lung cancer in comparison to cases of mesothelioma, another asbestos cancer, and that around 2,500 people in the UK die from asbestos lung cancer every year.
What is the difference between asbestos lung cancer and mesothelioma?
The two cancers have similar symptoms, including shortness of breath, chest pain and fatigue, but mesothelioma tumours develop in the lining of the lungs whereas lung cancer tumours develop inside the lungs themselves.
“The devastating effects of asbestos on our health is fortunately now well known. However, it is too late for thousands of people who were exposed to asbestos in the 1950s to the 1980s who were negligently exposed just going about their daily working lives.
“As reported by the Health and Safety Executive, asbestos is the biggest cause of work-related deaths, yet it remains in over 300,000 public buildings in the UK. The priority must now be its safe removal so future asbestos lung cancer cases can be prevented in the future.”
“This World Lung Cancer Day our thoughts are with all those who have been affected by asbestos, including those diagnosed with asbestos-related lung cancer and their loved ones.”
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with asbestos-related lung cancer, you may be entitled to claim compensation. Novum Law’s team of specialist asbestos and mesothelioma solicitors can help on a ‘No Win, No Fee’ basis so that you are able to access the support you need.