The use of asbestos in construction and textile companies has resulted in a number of deaths. Workers working with asbestos have been attacked by cancerous cells in the lungs. The fibers or dust particles emanated when asbestos is processed cannot be expelled by the lungs because of their large size. Thus, they deposit on the outer covering of the lungs and cause damage to it. These cancer cells could slowly spread further and attack other parts of the body.
A person washing the clothes of a worker working in a factory where asbestos is used is also likely to suffer from the disease. Since these fibers deposit and damage the lungs slowly, the symptoms of the disease start to appear very late. A person will be able to experience these symptoms only 30 to 50 years after they had been exposed to asbestos. Symptoms show only when the cancer has reached its final stage. These symptoms could a lot of time be confused with other disorders and in most cases the doctor is not able to diagnose the cancer. This is also because the cancer is still not popularly known by all doctors.
The symptoms of asbestos lung cancer are pretty much non specific. Patients suffering from this type of lung cancer will complain of pain and swelling in the abdomen, chest pain, pain in swallowing because of swelling in the face and neck, wheezing, difficulty in breathing, fever, fatigue and other specific symptoms such as blood colored sputum, dropping blood sugar level, pleural effusion, clotting of blood in the veins and accumulation of fluid in the chest and abdomen.
The diagnosis of asbestos lung cancer is done by performing an X-ray, CT scan and confirmed by a procedure known as biopsy. For biopsy, a surgeon will take samples of tissues and give it to the pathologist for closer examination. The treatment for asbestos lung cancer is decided keeping in mind the physical health of the patient, the location and size of the cancer and the extent to which it has affected the body.
There are different options for treating asbestos lung cancer but the chances of survival are very low. The different options include:
1. Surgery: The surgery to be performed will be decided on the basis of where the cancer cells are located in the lungs. Segmental resection may be performed to remove a portion of the lung. An entire lobe may also be removed. Patients may not be able to regain their energy after the surgery since air and fluid will accumulate in their chest.
2. Chemotherapy: Anti cancer drugs are prescribed to the patient in order to kill the cancer cells inside the body. These drugs could be taken orally or inserted by injection through the veins.
3. Radiation therapy: Radiation producing materials are inserted inside the body to remove cancer cells. Radiation signals may also be given using external machines.
Doctors are researching to find new treatments for the disease. They are trying to develop techniques that will help drain out the accumulated fluid from the chest and the abdomen.