Asbestos is widely hailed as one of the most dangerous substances in our world today. This isn’t because it kills or maims on contact, nor can it be used as a weapon of terror. Rather, the fact that asbestos is so useful – and was therefore widely used for the better part of the 20th century in the United States and is still being used abroad – is what makes it so damaging.
One of the most distressing aspects of asbestos is that it does not make itself immediately known. Many people received high doses of asbestos exposure, but since it takes years or more usually decades to manifest, they can’t do anything about it until it’s too late. It’s important to do everything to prevent negative outcomes from asbestos, and barring that, to get the help you need now if you have cancer or another illness.
If you have recently received a colon cancer diagnosis as a result of asbestos exposure, you likely have several more specific questions on your mind. Let’s answer those today to empower your tomorrow.
What Is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a mineral. We mine its raw ore, then process it to remove the asbestos fibers from the surrounding rock. Once processed, these fibers can be used as insulation against heat loss, as well as protection against fire and electrical current. It is nonconductive, resists corrosion from both acids and bases, and has high flexibility and tensile strength.
The last characteristic is somewhat misleading, however. While asbestos is flexible on the visible level, and feels pliable when manipulated, the microscopic strands that make up each fiber are actually quite “friable.” This means that they break apart easily. Because those strands are so small and light, the particles their shattering creates become airborne. Workers and others who come into contact with asbestos then draw them into their lungs when inhaling.
Asbestos is made of the same basic materials as glass, which means that once inside the lungs, it tends to embed in lung tissue as well as other organs, such as the colon. There it will stay for years or decades.
Where Does Asbestos Occur?
Asbestos was used frequently on both military and civilian sites. While its use was common as far back as ancient times – when it’s use as a fire retardant and insulator was already known – it was used in extreme quantities around the middle of the 20th century. Its use was banned in the 1970s in the United States, and phased out throughout the 1990s.
That does not, however, mean that it is no longer present.
“Asbestos is found in most all residential and industrial buildings that were refurbished or built prior to the year 2000. Many of the common materials that are used to build homes and buildings contain asbestos,” says Treat Mesothelioma, adding that states in which it was mined have even greater concentrations of the mineral in their air and environment. Also, many countries around the world still use it today.
How Does Asbestos Cause Mesothelioma Cancer?
Asbestos is a carcinogen, which means that it can cause abnormal changes to cell structure and reproductive activity when it comes into contact with bodily tissue. Carcinogens not only change the structure of DNA, causing mutations, they also promote the unnatural propagation of cells. The ongoing and fast reproduction causes masses to build up, also known as tumors.
Despite how this description may seem to characterize asbestos, however, the development of cancer as a result of exposure is a slow process. It may occur so long after exposure that you no longer worry about it, which is dangerous: It means you could miss valuable treatment time. That’s why it’s so important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of colon or colorectal cancer.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Colon Cancer?
According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of colon cancer include “A change in your bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation or a change in the consistency of your stool, that lasts longer than four weeks; Rectal bleeding or blood in your stool; Persistent abdominal discomfort, such as cramps, gas or pain; A feeling that your bowel doesn’t empty completely; Weakness or fatigue and unexplained weight loss.”
What Is the Life Expectancy Following Colon Cancer Diagnosis?
The life expectancy varies dramatically for those diagnosed with colon cancer. Unlike mesothelioma, an extremely aggressive form of asbestos-related cancer, colon cancer is often very treatable if caught early. Prognosis will depend on the stage of the cancer, the health of the patient, the degree of abnormality of cancer cells (called the “grade”), and complicating factors such as bowel blockage. Only a physician can offer an accurate prognosis and estimation of life expectancy.
There is hope, says Healthline: “The good news is the outlook for people with colon cancer has improved in the last several years. According to the Colorectal Cancer Coalition, the survival rate for people with colon cancer has increased by roughly 30 percent from 1991 through 2009.”
What Are the Mesothelioma Treatment Options?
There are three main treatments for colorectal cancer, including:
- Surgery, which removes the mass or masses of cancer
- Radiation, which uses x-rays and other types of electromagnetic radiation to destroy remaining cancerous cells
- Chemotherapy, which attacks cancer cells with chemical cocktails
Today, there are an increasing number of novel treatments as well, such as immunotherapy. Others have had success with supplements, certain diets, Eastern medicine and CBD oil.
Can You Get Help with Medical Bills from Mesothelioma?
Yes, there is quite a bit of available help for those suffering from cancer as a result of asbestos exposure.
“You may be able to get disability benefits if you have an illness believed to be caused by contact with asbestos and you meet … the requirements,” explains the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. “Both of these must be true: You had contact with asbestos while serving in the military, and you didn’t receive a dishonorable discharge.”
The same is true for civilian job sites. Note that medical bills aren’t the only hardship for which you can receive aid. You can also get compensation for other expenses related to the illness, lost wages and emotional hardship.
Should You Speak to a Mesothelioma Lawyer?
Definitely. Whether you’re a veteran filing a claim due to asbestos exposure during service or an employee who was exposed on a job site, a lawyer has the expertise to help you navigate the challenging waters of asbestos claims. Depending on where you were exposed – either on a civilian job site or in the military – you have the right to compensation.
If you are a family member whose loved one has died of colon cancer and you’re seeking compensation, you should speak to a lawyer as well. It’s best to do this as soon as possible after the death, when the facts of the case are fresh, and you can easily obtain all necessary records. Don’t wait to book a consultation with one of our experienced, compassionate attorneys today.
- Most Common Asbestos Locations. (2016). Retrieved from https://www.treatmesothelioma.org/most-common-asbestos-locations/
- Colon Cancer. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/colon-cancer/symptoms-causes/syc-20353669
- Colon Cancer Prognosis and Life Expectancy. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/colorectal-cancer/prognosis-and-life-expectancy#colon-cancer-statistics
- Veterans Asbestos Exposure. (ND). Retrieved from https://www.va.gov/disability/eligibility/hazardous-materials-exposure/asbestos/