Asbestoses

Asbestos is a highly toxic material. Also, when its fibers suspended in the air are inhaled, they can cause respiratory pathologies. Its deleterious effects are linked to their indestructible nature and to their deposition in the lung tissue which precedes their migration to the lung envelope (the pleura and the peritoneum).

Benign Pleural Disorders

An asbestos fiber is 400 to 2,000 times smaller than a hair, which allows it to penetrate to the pulmonary alveoli: a place of gas exchange between air and blood circulation.

Mesothelioma

Trapped, these fibers can cause non-cancerous inflammation or chromosomal abnormalities, the starting point of benign diseases or cancers

Lung Cancers

Asbestos fibers penetrate the lung and cause inflammation, which turns into fibrosis (thickening of the lung tissue). It usually takes about 10 years between inhalation and the onset of the disease. Shortness of breath, dry cough, feeling of oppression are the first symptoms that can evolve into respiratory failure, which can be fatal.

The diagnosis is based on X-rays, CT and functional investigations and the detection of asbestos bodies in bronchial secretions.

There is no effective treatment of this disease since decline in rates of asbestos exposure.

These lesions of the pleura are not the first signs of lung or pleural cancer (mesothelioma). There are different types of benign pleural lesions: benign pleurisy (effusion of fluid), pleural fibrosis (sclerosis following pleurisy which can sometimes lead to calcifications), atelectasis by coiling (benign mass developing in contact with the pleura)

These injuries can sometimes lead to a decrease in respiratory capacity or pain.

Mesothelioma reaches the membrane of the pleura or more rarely the peritoneum (protective membrane of the intestines in the abdominal cavity) or the pericardium (membrane that surrounds the heart). This cancer of the pleura is almost exclusively related to exposure to asbestos. Tobacco is not involved in mesothelioma. This disease can develop thirty to forty years after exposure to asbestos.

Mesothelioma is manifested by chest pain, shortness of breath due to the presence of fluid in the pleura (pleurisy), more rarely by emaciation and general fatigue.

The diagnosis is based on a thorascopy (examination which consists of visualizing the pleura) and a sampling of the tumor cells (biopsies).

No treatment having proved its effectiveness, this cancer is very poor prognosis. In the majority of cases, the patient dies within one year of diagnosis. Treatment is limited to reducing pain and treating pleural effusion by puncture or surgical method.

Each year, more than 25,000 lung cancers are diagnosed in the United States. Of these, 5-10% would be related to asbestos inhalation, but it is very difficult to distinguish its influence from that of tobacco in the smoker in particular. It would appear on average 15 to 20 years after exposure to asbestos. Asbestos multiplies by five the risk of developing this cancer

Too often late, the diagnosis of lung cancer is made by radiography or scanning before being confirmed by fibroscopy.

The prognosis of the disease depends strongly on the precocity of its diagnosis, the location of the tumors and the general state of health of the patient. Treatment is mainly based on surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Treatment protocols depend, among other things, on the type of tumor and its extent. To find out more, go to our dossier devoted to this disease.

Given the slow evolution of these diseases, asbestos will still do a lot of damage among the most exposed occupations and the public have long resided in dangerous places. Today, the National Institute for Research and Security (INRS) recognizes that 76% of asbestos removal projects fail to comply with safety regulations and expose the health of workers and people living nearby. In addition to these figures, some studies link asbestos to other localizations of cancers: larynx, colon, digestive system, colon, rectum And urogenital apparatus ... but these links remain the subject of scientific controversy.