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3 Diseases You Must Know That Are Caused by Asbestos Exposure

Current scientific research and medical evidence support the fact that the mere presence of asbestos does not possess a health risk as long as it is in good condition. The risk of developing an asbestos-related disease will increase when an asbestos-containing material (ACM) is being disturbed or damaged.

The asbestos material is a risk to human health when being disturbed or damaged.

Diseases caused by this hazardous materials may not peak in Australia sometime soon, but probably sometime in the next decade. The first symptom of these diseases may show up 10-50 after the first exposure.

Here are some examples of asbestos-related diseases:

  1. Mesothelioma
  2. Lung cancers
  3. Asbestosis
  4. Ovarian Cancer
  5. Pleral plaques
  6. Pleural thickening
  7. Laryngeal cancer

Currently, there is no cure for these diseases!

asbestos diseases

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3 diseases you must know that are caused by asbestos exposure


Mesothelioma is believed as the most lethal disease compared to other asbestos-related ailments. A steady number of people are still affected by it even though the use of asbestos was banned since 2003.

Some facts about mesothelioma:

  • Mesothelioma is increasing at an alarming rate in Brisbane.
  • The incidence of mesothelioma increased from 1945 to 2008 as almost as high as 80% (Figure 1).
  • It is thought that between 2015 and 2020, the incidence of mesothelioma will reach the peak.

number of mesothelioma asbestos cases

Figure 1. Mesothelioma incidence in Brisbane between 1945 until 2008

Mesothelioma is a rare and malignant disease that affects the lining of the pleura. Cancer can develop not only in the lining of the pleura but also in the abdomen or the heart. Mesothelioma usually develops after people were exposed to asbestos, whether in residential or commercial buildings. It is reported that 70-80 % of individuals, who are diagnosed with mesothelioma, were exposed to asbestos at their workplace.

When being inhaled, asbestos fibres can lodge in mesothelial tissue, which subsequently leads to cellular damage. As a result, cellular damage can increase the likelihood of a tumor growth in the lining of the lungs.

Most common symptoms of mesothelioma are:

  • Wheezing,
  • Dyspnea,
  • Chest pain,
  • Fever,
  • and muscle weakness.

Mesothelioma can be diagnosed by:

  • Blood tests,
  • Imaging tests,
  • and biopsies.

However, there is no current cure for mesothelioma. Current treatments for mesothelioma are focusing on the management of symptoms to increase the quality of life of patients.


Asbestosis is a lethal disease that restrains the lungs function. Asbestosis develops when asbestos fibres being inhaled and accumulate in the lung tissue to form scar formations.

It is reported that there were 178 deaths caused by asbestosis in 2011!

Over years, the scar tissue will be hardened and affecting the lung elasticity. As a consequence, this process will inhibit the lung functions. The scar formation can also inhibit the supply of oxygen to the lungs. Subsequently, patients will find a difficulty in breathing or called as dyspnea. The symptoms of asbestosis usually appear 10 until 20 years after the first exposure.

There is no known cure for asbestosis since the lungs damage is irreversible!

Viable treatment such as oxygen therapy will only manage the symptoms of asbestosis and be increasing the quality of life.

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is one of the most common types of cancer. There are often no symptoms in the early stages of lung cancer. But over the years, symptoms may develop in patients that include a persistent cough, breathlessness, pain when breathing and coughing up blood.

Some facts on lung cancer caused by asbestos exposure:

  • It is believed that smoking can multiply the risk of death by ten times for people who are diagnosed with lung cancer due to asbestos exposure.
  • Treatment for lung cancers will depend on the degree of severity and the type of cancer itself.
  • If the cancer is diagnosed early and the cancerous cells are small, surgery to remove the cancerous cells is often recommended.
  • If surgery is unsuitable, radiotherapy is often being recommended to remove the cancerous cells.

If one of these symptoms occurs to you, you should take precautions and contact your GP immediately. To prevent further exposure, seek help and advice from a professional asbestos removal contractor to conduct an assessment in your building.



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