Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer death in the United States according to the National Cancer Institute. Although smoking is the main cause of lung cancer, lung cancer risk is also increased by exposure to workplace toxins such as asbestos. As a matter of fact, the Surgeon General has reported those who smoked and were exposed to asbestos had a 90 fold increase in the risk of lung cancer. Hundreds of thousands of workers in the United States have been exposed to asbestos on the jobsite for decades in the 1930s through 1970s. With the phasing out of the manufacture of asbestos-containing products, there were less exposures to new products after the 1970s; however tear out and removal of existing products in place continues to expose workers to deadly asbestos.
Lung cancer occurs when there is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells that form tumors affecting the function of the lung. The DNA of these cancer cells is altered by the inhalation of the asbestos fibers and cigarette smoke. When the cancer cells divide, they produce more of the mutated cells.
There are two types of lung cancer: Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer and Small Cell Lung Cancer. The distinction is based on what the cells look like under a microscope. Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) is more common than Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC). The treatment for lung cancer depends on many factors, including the patient’s health and the size, location, and extent of the tumor(s).