November is lung cancer awareness month. Lung cancer is a devastating disease which affects tens of thousands of people in the UK every year. November is the month when we focus on lung cancer and on encouraging people to seek medical assistance if they are displaying typical symptoms of lung cancer.
Symptoms of Lung Cancer
Symptoms of lung cancer include a cough that doesn’t go away after a few weeks, recurrent chest infections, coughing up blood, ongoing breathlessness and an unexplained loss of weight. If someone has any of these symptoms, they should seek medical assistance.
Causes of Lung Cancer
The main cause of lung cancer is smoking. If someone has a smoking history or is a current smoker, they are at an increased risk of developing lung cancer. The connection has been thoroughly researched and is well known by many people. However, what is not so well published and not so well known is that historic asbestos exposure can also cause lung cancer.
Our specialist asbestos team at Hodge Jones & Allen regularly deal with lung cancer cases which have nothing to do with smoking but everything to do with asbestos exposure at work many years ago.
Asbestos Exposure and Lung Cancer
The NHS confirms that lung cancer is the “most common cancer in the world. In the UK around 44,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. It is the most common cause of cancer death in the UK for both men and women”.
It is assumed by most people that if someone develops lung cancer, then it must have been caused by their smoking. However, if someone is diagnosed with lung cancer they should also consider whether they have previously been exposed to asbestos at work. Of the 44,000 new cases of lung cancer diagnosed each year, a proportion of those will be due to asbestos exposure, even if the victim has a smoking history.
If someone has suffered a high level of exposure to asbestos at work, it may be possible to link that exposure to asbestos to the development of the lung cancer. If that link can be made, then the lung cancer sufferer can access, with our specialist help and advice, DWP benefits and even compensation.
In order to prove that someone’s lung cancer has been caused by asbestos exposure rather than their smoking, there needs to have been a high level of exposure to asbestos. It is very important this is discussed with a lawyer experienced in dealing with assessing whether someone’s exposure to asbestos will meet the required levels. Our specialist and hugely experienced asbestos disease team will discuss this with you and advise you – all at no cost. If we recommend a compensation claim can be pursued, this too will be on the basis of no financial risk to you. 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.
The NHS states that “one out of every seven people diagnosed with lung cancer each year have never smoked”. So what has caused the lung cancer to develop in those people? It may well be they were exposed to asbestos in their employment years ago but that may not be an obvious source of exposure they think of.
Even if someone has a smoking history, if they have also been exposed to asbestos and meet the legal requirements in relation to the levels of asbestos exposure, a compensation claim can be potentially pursued.
A specific type of lung cancer is mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is an asbestos related cancer which mainly develops in the lung, although it can also develop in other areas of the body such as the abdomen.
It is generally accepted that mesothelioma is only caused by exposure to asbestos. However, mesothelioma doesn’t require the high level of exposure to asbestos that asbestos related lung cancer requires.
Approximately 2,500 people each year are currently being diagnosed with mesothelioma. That is on top of the thousands of people being diagnosed with lung cancer which is likely to be due to previous asbestos exposure.
This is the first lung cancer awareness month which has taken place during the Covid-19 pandemic. Understandably, people will be worried about seeking medical help if they start to develop symptoms such as a cough or breathlessness and those worries are likely to be compounded in the middle of a pandemic. These are typical symptoms for many medical conditions, including lung cancer and also mesothelioma. We would urge anyone who is suffering from such symptoms to contact their GP for advice. Early diagnosis of lung cancer or mesothelioma will give the sufferer more options in terms of treatment, even during the restrictions of Covid-19.
November is lung cancer awareness month but we would also like to raise awareness that lung cancer isn’t just caused by smoking. It is a very real fact that lung cancer can also be caused by exposure to asbestos.
Asbestos related lung cancer and mesothelioma are responsible for thousands of deaths in the UK every year. The UK’s historic use of asbestos has a lot to answer for – people are dying because they were exposed to asbestos fibres at work and employers allowed this to happen.
We would urge anyone who has been diagnosed with 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. There is nothing to be lost in discussing this with our dedicated asbestos experts but potentially a lot to be gained in terms of financial benefits and compensation and in obtaining justice for exposure to asbestos that simply should not have happened.