Page Updated: June 13, 2019

Asbestos Diseases Guide

Exposure to asbestos has been linked to toxic diseases, injuries, and ailments. Some asbestos-related diseases are more serious than others, but almost every victim that suffers has some form of respiratory system disorder.

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, or asbestosis, you may be eligible for substantial compensation. There is currently over $30 billion in asbestos trust funds, set up for those who are victims to asbestos-related diseases. We invite you to fill out our form today for a free Financial Compensation Packet, filled with information about top mesothelioma lawyers in your area, how to get paid in 90 days, how to file an asbestos trust fund claim, and much more. 

elderly man being comforted


Although malignant mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos, it’s the most well-known type of asbestos cancer. Mesothelioma typically starts by cancer developing within the lining of the lungs.

Symptoms of mesothelioma consist of chest pain, fluid buildup in the lungs and chest, fatigue, weight loss, lethargy, and shortness of breath. Victims are usually exposed to asbestos over a long duration. However, in some instances, only short periods of exposure has led to mesothelioma.

Currently, there are around 2,000 to 3,000 cases of mesothelioma annually in the U.S., with a current total of a little over 540,000. The majority of people diagnosed with mesothelioma are between 50 to 70 years of age, with men being three times more likely to be diagnosed than women.

The survival rate of mesothelioma is sparse, usually because its already in its advanced stages before it is caught. Treatment options are covered in-depth in our Treatment Guide.

Papillary Mesothelioma

Papillary mesothelioma, also known as well-differentiated papillary mesothelioma (WDPM) is considered the least harmful form of mesothelioma. It can affect anyone at any age, but women between the ages of 30 to 40 have been diagnosed with the condition most often.

Although the cause of WDPM is still being researched, some cases suggest exposure to asbestos is one of the main causes while other victims state that they’ve never been exposed to asbestos. WDPM is an uncommon condition marked by fluid build-up in the abdominal area.

The prognosis for WDPM is much higher than any other form of mesothelioma as it’s not only considered benign, but it also doesn’t spread to different areas of the body.

Treatment consists of draining the fluid, and in severe cases, a combination of surgery and chemotherapy. Most people who receive treatment beat the condition. Studies show in the majority of cases, the tumors don’t return after treatment.

Asbestos-Related Lung Cancer

According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), asbestos-related lung cancer is diagnosed more than any other type of asbestos-related illness. Up to 10,000 asbestos-related lung cancer fatalities occur in the United States each year. Asbestos-related lung cancer occurs when asbestos fibers are inhaled and become stuck in the lungs.

After years of being lodged in the lungs, these fibers will eventually cause cell damage and form tumors. Per the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), the higher amount of fibers lodged in the lungs, the higher risk that the victim will develop lung cancer.

Smoking can also play a part asbestos-related lung cancer. If the victim is a smoker, the chances of developing lung cancer triples. In many instances, lung cancer related to smoking can get confused with asbestos-related lung cancer. Because of this, the Helsinki Criteria was created in order to help determine if lung cancer is asbestos-related or from other forms.

The Helsinki Criteria mandates that the lung cancer must have developed at least 10 years after asbestos exposure, that a high percentage of asbestos must be found in the lungs, and that the victim must have had prolonged and a high amount of exposure to asbestos.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a respiratory illness characterized by blocked airways. COPD mainly affects smokers, but people exposed to asbestos and other dangerous substances are also at risk. In fact, studies suggest at least 15% of all COPD cases are associated with work-related activities, such as inhaling asbestos fibers while at a job site.

COPD is a progressive disease that gets worse over time. It manifests itself as either chronic bronchitis or emphysema. Those with COPD often suffer from a persistent, hacking cough, accompanied by sputum. They may also experience difficulty while breathing, fatigue, weight loss, and tightness in the chest. COPD affects an estimated 24 million Americans and is the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S.

There is no cure for COPD. It can, however, be managed by a variety of treatments, including bronchodilators and anti-inflammatory drugs, and, in extreme cases, oxygen therapy. People with COPD can also take preventive measures such as avoiding exposure to second-hand cigarette smoke and other pollutants.

Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD)

Interstitial lung disease (ILD) is a medical condition caused by exposure to harmful pollutants and toxic as well as underlying disorders. Asbestosis is the medical condition associated with ILD. Regardless of how ILD develops, all cases are marked with excessive and irreversible lung scarring. 

Although treatment can’t reverse the lung scarring, it can help prevent additional scarring and reduce the risks of additional medical complications.

Pleural Effusion

Pleural effusion is a build-up of liquid between the tissues that lie between the lungs and the chest cavity. Usually the body makes a small amount of fluid to lubricate the pleural lining that surrounds the lungs. However, lung injuries and/or diseases can cause the formation of abnormal build-ups of pleural fluid.

Pleural effusions can make breathing difficult because their weight pushes in or displaces lung tissue.

Pleural effusions by themselves are not life-threatening, but the conditions that create them are, such as mesothelioma. Although the effusions will usually resolve within three months or so, they have the tendency to recur frequently. Treatment options include medications and thoracoscopic surgery, which entails draining the excessive fluid.

Other Cancers

Although mesothelioma and asbestos-related lung cancer are the most prevalent diseases concerning asbestos, other forms of cancers can also occur. Gastrointestinal cancers are specifically of concern to doctors as more information about asbestos-related cancers surface.

According to the EWG, gastrointestinal cancers along with asbestos-related lung cancers have killed over 200,000 people since the late 70s. Asbestos can also affect other body organs that can potentially turn cancerous, such as the breasts, colon, kidneys, esophagus, throat, ovaries, and prostate.

Victims contract other forms of cancers the same way as mesothelioma or asbestos-related lung cancer: ingestion or inhalation of asbestos which usually occurs after prolonged exposure.

Legal Assistance

If you’ve been injured by mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, or asbestosis, keep in mind that there is a good chance that you’ll qualify for considerable compensation. Don’t forget to fill out our form to get our free Financial Compensation Packet, filled with information on the leading asbestos and mesothelioma attorneys in your area.