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Lung cancer caused by asbestos exposure

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. Lung cancer is a devastating disease which the NHS confirms 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”.

During November, we focus on lung cancer prevention, early detection and on encouraging people to seek medical assistance if they are displaying symptoms which are typical of lung cancer.

Symptoms of Lung Cancer

Typical symptoms of lung cancer include a persistent cough, recurrent chest infections, coughing up blood, ongoing breathlessness and unexplained weight loss. If an individual has any of these symptoms, they should seek medical advice.

Causes of Lung Cancer

The main cause of lung cancer is smoking. Past or current smokers have an increased risk of developing the disease. The connection has been thoroughly researched and is widely known. However, what is not so widely publicised or 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

It is generally assumed that if someone develops lung cancer, it must have been due to their smoking. However, if someone is diagnosed with lung cancer they should also consider whether they have previously been exposed to asbestos dust 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.

NHS statistics also confirm 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 may overlook this as a potential cause of lung cancer.

Asbestos and smoking are both known carcinogens. Each of these increases an individual’s risk of developing lung cancer. When combined, the risks are multiplied, so a person who has smoked and been exposed to asbestos is at a much higher risk of developing lung cancer than a person who has only been exposed to either asbestos dust or who has smoked.

If someone has suffered a high level of exposure to asbestos at work, it may be possible to link that exposure to asbestos dust and fibres 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 and non-NHS funded treatment.

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 fibres. It is very important this is discussed with a lawyer experienced in 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.

To read about one such successful claim, please click here.


A specific type of lung cancer is mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is an asbestos related cancer which mainly develops in the lung lining, 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 second Lung Cancer Awareness Month which has taken place during the Covid-19 pandemic. Research has shown that since the pandemic began, people have been understandably, worried and reluctant to seek early medical help if they develop symptoms such as a cough or breathlessness. After all, these are symptoms related to Covid-19 and a variety of other medical conditions, including lung cancer and 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.

If you suffer from lung cancer caused by asbestos exposure or are considering making a claim for a loved one, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our specialist asbestos team, who will handle your case individually and advise on the next steps. Please call free on 0808 252 5231.

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