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Lung Cancer Awareness Month – Raising Awareness of Lung Cancer and the Effect of Asbestos Exposure

This year, November 2022 is dedicated as Lung Cancer Awareness Month 2022 – to raise awareness of the third most common cancer in the UK.

According to Cancer Research UK, there are 48,600 individuals diagnosed each year within the UK and lung cancer sadly accounts for approximately 35,100 deaths within that same year.

At Hodge Jones & Allen, our Asbestos Team know all too well the distressing impact a cancer diagnosis has on an individual and their family and we are dedicated to helping victims receive the compensation and legal support they deserve.

We would like to dedicate November 2022 as a focus upon lung cancer prevention, early detection and encouraging individuals to seek medical help if they are displaying symptoms typical of lung cancer.

Lung Cancer and Mesothelioma

Lung Cancer develops when a malignant tumour forms within the lung. This disease is largely caused by smoking, accounting for approximately 72% of cases according to the NHS.

That said, historic asbestos exposure is also a prominent source from which this disease can develop.

Mesothelioma is a specific form of lung cancer that affects the lining that covers the lungs (the pleura). Mesothelioma is considered to be caused exclusively from exposure to asbestos fibres; even just minimal exposure. According to the Institute of Cancer Research, the UK has the highest death rate from mesothelioma; with recent figures from HSE suggesting 2,369 deaths from mesothelioma, that is on top of the thousands of people dying from lung cancer.

We would urge anyone who has been diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer, even if they have a smoking history, to contact us for legal advice if they know they have been exposed to asbestos in their employment.

Symptoms of Lung Cancer

Typical symptoms of lung cancer include the following (from the NHS website):

  • a cough that does not go away after 3 weeks
  • a long-standing cough that gets worse
  •  chest infections that keep coming back
  •  coughing up blood
  • an ache or pain when breathing or coughing
  • persistent breathlessness
  • persistent tiredness or lack of energy
  • loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss

Less common symptoms of lung cancer include changes in the appearance of your fingers, difficulty swallowing, wheezing, a hoarse voice, swelling of your face or neck and persistent chest or shoulder pain.

Our specialist Asbestos Team would urge any individual who is suffering from these symptoms to seek medical advice or contact their GP without delay. If an early diagnosis can be made, this will afford more treatment options and choices.

Asbestos Exposure and Lung Cancer

Asbestos, in every form, is carcinogenic to humans. Once the fibres are inhaled, they cannot be overcome by the body’s immune system. This inhalation can affect the lungs or pleura (lining of the lungs), and unfortunately result in lung cancer.

Whilst the main cause of lung cancer is smoking, there is a definite link between a high level of occupational asbestos exposure and the development of lung cancer in many cases. Our specialist Asbestos Team at Hodge Jones & Allen, due to many decades of experience dealing with these cases can help you with such a claim. We regularly handle lung cancer cases that have nothing to do with smoking, but everything to do with coming into contact with asbestos from past exposure – even if the exposure to asbestos was a long time ago.

Of the 48,600 new cases of lung cancer diagnosed each year, a proportion of those will be as a result of asbestos exposure – even if the individual has a history of smoking. When smoking and exposure to asbestos are combined, the risk of developing lung cancer is multiplied, so a person who has been exposed to asbestos and has also smoked is at a much higher risk of developing lung cancer than someone who has only been exposed to either asbestos or smoking.

It is also important to note that NHS statistics confirm “one out of every seven people diagnosed with lung cancer each year have never smoked”. Lung cancer is also evidently prevalent in those who have never smoked. Lung cancer in never smokers is now the UK’s 8th most common cause of cancer related death. In these circumstances asbestos exposure should be investigated as a potential cause of the lung cancer.

Each asbestos-related disease has a long latency period, meaning it takes a significant amount of time for any symptoms to arise following exposure to asbestos dust in the past. With our specialist help and advice, we will consider if an individual’s contact with asbestos will meet the required levels of fibre exposure. If that link can be made, the lung cancer sufferer can access DWP benefits and non-NHS funded treatment in addition to our legal services.

If our Asbestos Team recommends a compensation claim can be pursued, this will be on the basis of no financial risk to the individual. All of our asbestos disease claims are dealt with on the basis of a “no win, no fee” arrangement; and even if the case is successful, we do not deduct anything from the compensation for legal costs or expenses.

How you can make a difference this Lung Cancer Awareness Month

The importance of Lung Cancer Awareness Month is to allow the impact of lung cancer to be recognised and highlighted; so that prevention and treatment can fight back against the detriment it causes. It is a very real fact that lung cancer can also be caused by exposure to asbestos, not just by smoking.

Currently, within the UK, asbestos-related disease deaths have reached over 5,000 per year, according to the latest statistics published by HSE in December 2021. As a comparison, HSE reports asbestos is responsible for the death of approximately 20 tradespeople in the UK every week. This is shocking given the danger of asbestos use has been well-recognised for over 55 years.

Early investigation and referral is the key to improving the outcome of this avoidable disease, and is the driving force behind the current ‘See Through the Symptoms’ campaign – please click here for further information.

In supporting Lung Cancer Awareness Month, our specialist Asbestos Team can obtain justice, financial benefits and treatment funding for those who are sadly suffering the devastating effects of exposure to asbestos.

We look forward to a time when asbestos-related cancer, and deaths, are a thing of the past and not part of our present or future.

If you have been affected by asbestos exposure and require legal advice in relation to seeking compensation, please contact our Asbestos & Mesothelioma Compensation Team on 0808 271 9413 for confidential and expert advice. They treat every client as an individual and strive to take away the worry of a legal claim.

Further Reading