Asbestos Lung Cancer

Asbestos lung cancer is one of several diseases that can result from asbestos exposure. A naturally occurring mineral, asbestos is durable and resists heat and electricity — qualities that made it appealing to product manufacturers. However, the body cannot break asbestos fibers down if inhaled or ingested, which can lead to inflammation and the development of lung cancer tumors.

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Amy Garrett

Fact-Checked and Legally Reviewed by: Amy E. Garrett

Does Asbestos Cause Lung Cancer?

Asbestos exposure is known to cause several diseases, including two types of lung cancer:

  • Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC): SCLC impacts 10-15% of lung cancer patients. It generally grows and spreads faster than NSCLC.
  • Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC): NSCLC is the more common form of lung cancer. While there are three subtypes of NSCLC — adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and large cell carcinoma — all types have a similar prognosis and treatment.

In addition to asbestos lung cancer, exposure to asbestos is the only known cause of mesothelioma — a lethal form of cancer that most commonly forms in the pleural lining of the lungs. Asbestos exposure can also cause asbestosis, which is a chronic lung disease characterized by painful lung-tissue scarring.

How Does Asbestos Cause Lung Cancer?

Exposure to asbestos is a serious health hazard. Individual asbestos fibers are invisible to the naked eye. The accidental inhalation or ingestion of asbestos fibers can be devastating for a person’s health because the human body cannot break these fibers down over time. Instead, once inhaled, these fibers can get stuck inside of a person’s lungs.

When asbestos fibers settle inside of a person’s lungs, it can cause scarring and inflammation. Over a long period of time — often 10-50 years — tumors may develop, causing symptoms and leading to a lung cancer diagnosis.

The location of the tumor(s) determines the type of cancer. Lung cancer differs from mesothelioma. While lung cancer develops in a person’s lung tissue, pleural mesothelioma develops in the thin membrane (or pleura) that surrounds and protects the lungs.

Who Develops Lung Cancer Caused by Asbestos?

It only takes a single asbestos fiber to cause asbestos lung cancer or another asbestos-related disease. However, individuals who were regularly exposed to asbestos run a higher risk of developing asbestos-related diseases.

Due to prolonged asbestos exposure, people who worked in certain occupations and industries are at the greatest risk of developing asbestos-related diseases like lung cancer.

The following occupations are associated with higher rates of asbestos-related lung cancer and diseases:

  • Aircraft mechanics
  • Auto mechanics
  • Boilermakers/tenders
  • Cabinet makers
  • Carpenters
  • Construction workers
  • Custodial workers
  • Electricians
  • Firefighters
  • Military service members and veterans
  • Mill workers
  • Miners
  • Pipefitters
  • Plumbers
  • Railroad workers
  • Refinery workers
  • Shipyard workers
  • Welders

The following industries were known for asbestos use and exposure:

  • Asphalt
  • Automotive
  • Carpentry
  • Concrete
  • Construction
  • Electricity
  • Firefighting
  • HVAC
  • Manufacturing
  • Metalwork
  • Mining
  • Oil
  • Plumbing
  • Power generation
  • Railroad
  • Shipbuilding and repair

The above lists are not exhaustive — other professions and industries are also associated with a history of asbestos exposure and may be at risk of developing asbestos-related diseases like lung cancer.

What Are the Symptoms of Asbestos-Related Lung Cancer?

It can take up to five decades, or even longer, for the initial symptoms of lung cancer to develop after exposure to asbestos.

The main symptoms of asbestos-related lung cancer are:

  • Bloody cough
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath/trouble breathing
  • Wheezing

If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms — or symptoms that may suggest another illness or form of cancer — it’s important to seek medical attention right away. A doctor will be able to run tests and scans to determine if you have asbestos lung cancer or another disease.

To screen for lung cancer, a doctor may use one or more of the following tests:

  • Biopsy
  • Blood test
  • Bronchoscopy
  • Chest X-ray
  • CT scan
  • PET scan

If you were recently diagnosed with asbestos-related lung cancer, then you may be owed money by the companies responsible for exposing you to asbestos. can connect you with an experienced asbestos lung cancer law firm that will fight for compensation on your behalf.

Can You Survive Asbestos-Related Lung Cancer?

A patient’s prognosis is largely determined by the type of cancer and its stage. Generally, the earlier the cancer is in its development, the better a patient’s overall prognosis. This is why it is vital for people who have been exposed to asbestos to get regular checkups and share with their doctors any potential symptoms of asbestos lung cancer they may be experiencing.

Patients diagnosed with asbestos lung cancer have a similar prognosis to those who develop lung cancer from tobacco smoke or other causes.

In addition to the stage of cancer, a lung cancer prognosis can be impacted by:

  • Cancer subtype (small-cell vs. non-small-cell)
  • A patient’s age and overall health
  • Smoking history
  • Whether the cancer has spread throughout or beyond the lungs

Depending on the factors above, different treatments may be able to help asbestos lung cancer patients improve their prognosis, including:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation
  • Surgery

Emerging therapies like immunotherapy may present additional treatment options for qualified lung cancer patients who are eligible to participate in cutting-edge clinical trials.

Who Can File an Asbestos Lung Cancer Lawsuit?

To be considered eligible for an asbestos lung cancer lawsuit, the injured party (plaintiff) must have:

  • Confirmed lung cancer diagnosis
  • History of asbestos exposure

In addition, lawsuits must be filed within a certain time limit, known as the statute of limitations. Each state has its own set of deadlines that determine exactly how much time an injured party has to take legal action.

In an asbestos lung cancer lawsuit, the plaintiff can be either the lung cancer patient themself, their immediate family member(s), or their estate representative(s).

Eligible claimants may be able to pursue compensation from the asbestos product manufacturers who are responsible for their asbestos exposure. Asbestos lung cancer claims may result in compensation secured through a settlement, a verdict, or an established asbestos trust fund.

The vast majority of claims result in asbestos lung cancer settlements, which typically provide compensation without going to trial. An experienced asbestos lung cancer lawyer will be able to determine whether you may be eligible for filing an asbestos lung cancer claim.

What Kind of Asbestos Lung Cancer Compensation Is Available?

Patients who are diagnosed with asbestos lung cancer are often shocked to learn their disease was caused by asbestos exposure and that it could have been prevented. The asbestos product manufacturers responsible for exposing people to asbestos knew their products were dangerous — but chose not to warn their workers or the general public.

In addition to holding these companies accountable, many people file lawsuits to get money that can help offset the costs of the disease.

Compensation secured in an asbestos lung cancer lawsuit can be used to help pay for:

  • Lost wages due to inability to work
  • Medical expenses associated with treating the disease
  • Pain and suffering
  • Travel costs from seeing specialists or other doctors
  • Funeral and burial costs (in wrongful death cases)

An asbestos lung cancer lawyer may be able to help individuals impacted by asbestos-related lung cancer seek compensation through:

  • Asbestos trust funds
  • Personal injury lawsuits
  • VA benefits
  • Wrongful death lawsuits

Some eligible claimants may be able to seek compensation through one or more of the above resources. For example, a qualified U.S. military veteran may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the manufacturers of asbestos-containing products in addition to their VA benefits.

Who Are the Best Asbestos Lung Cancer Lawyers?

The best asbestos lung cancer lawyers usually work for a law firm that has the resources and experience necessary to give their clients the best advantages in seeking compensation.

The top asbestos lung cancer lawyers should meet the following criteria:

  • Decades of Experience: At least several decades’ worth of experience litigating asbestos claims
  • National Presence: The ability to file an asbestos lawsuit in the state that is most likely to maximize the value of your case
  • Relationships: Working partnerships with the top asbestos-related disease doctors and experts in the country
  • Resources: Comprehensive databases of job sites and locations associated with asbestos exposure
  • Track Record: A long track record of achieving favorable results for their clients

Only asbestos lung cancer lawyers who meet all of the above requirements should be considered for your case. partners with the best asbestos lung cancer lawyers in the country. Contact us to see if you are eligible for compensation. If so, we’ll connect you with an experienced asbestos lung cancer lawyer.

The attorneys we work with charge no upfront costs or out-of-pocket fees. They only get paid if your case succeeds in getting compensation.

Amy Garrett

Fact-Checked and Legally Reviewed by: Amy E. GarrettPartner

  • Lawyer
  • Editor

Amy Garrett is a partner at Simmons Hanly Conroy with more than 22 years of litigation experience. Amy has helped the firm secure billions of dollars in settlements and verdicts for clients. Over the past two decades, she has gained a reputation as a litigator who advocates for her asbestos and complex litigation clients both inside and outside the courtroom. Icon

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  1. American Cancer Society. “Asbestos & Cancer Risks.” September 15, 2015. Retrieved February 11, 2022 from
  2. American Cancer Society. “Lung Cancer Survival Rates.” January 29, 2021. Retrieved February 11, 2022 from
  3. American Cancer Society. “What Is Lung Cancer?” October 1, 2019. Retrieved February 11, 2022 from​​
  4. American Lung Association. “Asbestos and Lung Health.” February 8, 2022. Retrieved February 11, 2022 from
  5. Heintz, Nicholas H., et al. “Asbestos, Lung Cancers, and Mesotheliomas: From Molecular Approaches to Targeting Tumor Survival Pathways.” American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology. February 2010. Retrieved February 11, 2022 from
  6. Mayo Clinic. “Asbestosis — Symptoms & Causes.” February 11, 2022. Retrieved March 16, 2022 from ​​
  7. National Cancer Institute. “Asbestos Exposure and Cancer.” November 29, 2021. Retrieved February 10, 2022 from
  8. Uguen, Marie, et al. “Asbestos-related lung cancers: A retrospective clinical and pathological study.” Molecular and Clinical Oncology. July 2017. Retrieved February 9, 2022 from
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