Lung cancer is responsible for nearly one in five deaths globally and continues to be one of the most common cancers worldwide. It claims more lives each year than breast, colon and prostate cancer combined. The highest incidences are in Europe and North America.
Organisations throughout the world will be uniting on 1 August to celebrate survivors, remember those who have passed and spread awareness about the causes of lung cancer.
What causes lung cancer?
The most common cause of lung cancer is, as you would expect, smoking. However, it can also be caused by the following:
- Asbestos. If you have had a heavy exposure to asbestos this may have caused or contributed to your lung cancer. Smoking and asbestos react together to greatly increase someone’s risk of developing lung cancer. If you have been exposed to asbestos and developed lung cancer then you should seek specialist legal advice as you may have a claim for compensation.
- Exposure to radon, arsenic, beryllium, uranium and radiation.
- Diseases such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and TB. These can increase the risk of developing lung cancer.
- Age. The risk of lung cancer increases as someone gets older.
What symptoms should you watch out for?
Most lung cancers develop in the airways that carry air in and out of your lungs, but they can also start in the lung tissue itself.
These are some of the symptoms to be aware of:
- A cough that gets worse or lasts for weeks
- Coughing up blood
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Unintentional weight loss
If you are concerned that you are experiencing any of the above symptoms then we would recommend that you seek medical advice. You should also advise your GP or other medical professional if you believe you have been exposed to asbestos or any of the other agents referred to above.
Mesothelioma is a cancer, the only known cause for which is asbestos exposure. The tumour effects the lining of the lungs (although it can also occur in the lining of the heart and abdomen). Mesothelioma, unlike lung cancer, can be caused by just one single asbestos fibre.
Mesothelioma is considered to be an incurable cancer, although there are many clinical trials now, particularly in the area of immunotherapy which offer hope for a cure. There are also a number of treatments which can help to relieve symptoms, pain and increase life expectancy.
Is it worth considering a claim?
Sometimes exposure to asbestos could have occurred as long as 40-60 years ago before someone develops an asbestos-related illness, but that doesn’t mean a claim cannot be brought. In one particular case Shoosmiths achieved a £250,000 award for a widow after her 77 year-old husband, who stopped work in 1995, died from mesothelioma. We were told that during his working life he was never given any instruction on the dangers of asbestos or provided with masks or safety gear, but there was no direct evidence because by the time the claim began, our client’s husband had died.
It took a lot of detective work to track down his work colleagues at the time who could confirm the nature of the work as well as the lack of personal protective equipment and identify the defendant insurance company at the time to obtain an admission of liability and causation. The persistence and effort shown by all concerned got the right result.
Sara Hunt, Partner and asbestos specialist commented:
‘Whilst compensation can never replace someone’s good health, we were able to obtain justice against the company who exposed this lady’s husband to the asbestos and make sure she was provided for financially.’
If you would like specialist legal advice about asbestos-related lung cancer or mesothelioma, then please contact Sara Hunt – [email protected]
For support and more information about lung cancer and other lung illness, see the British Lung Foundation website: www.blf.org.uk