Asbestos exposure causes a number of diseases, both cancerous and non-cancerous. The symptoms of asbestos related diseases may take a time ranging from 10 to even about 50 years for the symptoms to appear.


Asbestos related diseases

Asbestos Related Diseases




Asbestosis is a lung disease caused by inhaling asbestos fibers. It is sometimes called fibrosis.

Inhaling asbestos fibers can cause scarred tissue to form in the interior of the lung. This scarred lung tissue remains inactive (doesn’t grow or shrink) under normal conditions. The severity of asbestosis depends on the amount of asbestos exposed and eventually inhaled by the victim.

The symptoms of asbestosis include

  • Chest pain
  • Cough
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Shortness of breath
  • Clubbing of fingers
  • Nail abnormalities

Smoking increases the risk of asbestosis. There is no treatment to asbestosis.


This is a cancerous disease caused by asbestos. Mesothelioma is a  form of cancer of the lining of the lungs and abdomen. It occurs when some inhaled asbestos fibres penetrate to the lung walls and cause cancer in the lining of the lung which is called pleura (I). If swallowed, these fibres can penetrate the stomach or intestines and cause cancer in the lining of the abdomen which is called peritoneum. (II)

Malignant mesothelioma is the deadliest of the diseases caused by asbestos. Exposure to asbestos is the primary cause for mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is diagnosed with the help of biopsy.

Symptoms of pleural mesothelioma (I) are –

  • Pain in the side of the chest or abdomen
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Excessive sweating
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Trouble swallowing food
  • Swelling of the face and arms

Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma II) are –

  • Abdominal  pain
  • Swelling or fluid in the abdomen
  • Weight loss
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation

There is no cure to treat mesothelioma.

Pleural Thickening

Pleural thickening caused by asbestos is a scarring and hardening of the pleura.

Scarring and hardening is caused when asbestos fibres are breathed in and become permanently lodged in the pleura making it difficult for the lungs to expand. This eventually makes it too difficult to breathe.

  • progressive breathlessness
  • reduced chest wall movement
  • chest pain
  • general disability because of deteriorating functioning of lungs
  • cough

These symptoms get worse over time. People having pleural thickening often develop mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis.

Pleural Effusion

In pleural effusions, fluid and pus accumulates in the space between the layers of pleura. Normally, only little quantity of watery fluid are present in the pleural space.

Excessive fluid may accumulate because the body does not handle fluid properly.

Symptoms of pleuric effusions are

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain when breathing
  • Fever
  • Persistent cough

Pleural Plaques

Pleural plaques are similar to scars on the lining of the lungs, also known as known as the pleura. These plaques form as a result of asbestos exposure. There are no symptoms from which one can discern pleural plaques and the disease itself isn’t known to be cancerous.

Approximately fifty percent of all individuals who were continually exposed to asbestos develop pleural plaques. As pleural plaques have no notable symptoms, they are often discovered during different medical tests of the body.

Lung Cancer

Although smoking is the main cause for lung cancer, asbestos exposure too results in lung cancer. The percentage of asbestos exposure in lung cancer causes is approximately four.

Asbestos caused lung cancer usually takes between 15 and 35 years to develop. Latency is affected both by the level of exposure and other carcinogens such as cigarettes.

Lung cancer develops long aster asbestos serpentine fibers reach the lung. Once asbestos fibers are inhaled, they attach to the lung tissue. When the fibers cause enough damage to the lung tissue, tumor development begins.

The symptoms of lung cancer (asbestos and smoking-caused) include

  • incessant cough that does not go away or gets worse
  • Coughing up blood or rust-coloured phlegm
  • Chest pain that is often worse with deep coughing and laughing
  • Hoarseness
  • Weight loss and loss of appetite
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling tired or weak
  • Infections such as prolonged bronchitis and pneumonia
  • wheezing

When tumor develops in the body, it causes

  • Bone pain
  • Nervous system doesn’t function effectively when brain is affected
  • Jaundice, when tumour spreads to the liver
  • Lumps near the surface of the body

Laryngeal Cancer

Although smoking and alcohol consumption are the main causes for laryngeal cancer, asbestos exposure is also a prevalent cause.

Asbestos fibres, before reaching the lungs pass through the larynx. En route, these fibres can penetrate laryngeal tissue and accumulate there.

The symptoms of laryngeal cancer are –

  • a change in your voice, such as sounding hoarse
  • pain when swallowing or difficulty swallowing
  • a lump or swelling in your neck
  • prolonged cough
  • bad breath
  • wheezing
  • fatigue
  • a persistent sore throat or earache
  • when serious, difficulty in breathing

Ovarian Cancer 

Ovarian cancer attacks the female reproductive glands. This type of asbestos caused is the fifth-leading cause of cancer deaths among women.

This is because most women use talcum powder or talc, which contains amphibole asbestos fibers tremolite and anthophyllite.

The symptoms in women are –

  • Abdominal  swelling
  • Quickly feeling full when eating
  • Weight loss
  • Discomfort in the pelvis area
  • Constipation
  • Frequent urination

Testes Cancer

The testes cancer, also called testicular mesothelioma is a cancer of the membrane lining that covers the testicles. This disease is extremely rare and hence extensive research information is lacking on the topic.

Most patients having testes cancer have no history of asbestos exposure.

Symptoms are –

  • A lump  in either testicle.
  • A feeling of heaviness in the scrotum.
  • A dull ache in the abdomen or groin.
  • Accumulation of fluid in the scrotum.
  • Painin a testicle or the scrotum

Common symptom – cough

In most of the diseases caused by asbestos, a persistent cough is a common one. This cough by asbestos may cause pain and is one that produces mucus.

The number of victims of asbestos related diseases can be reduced by spreading awareness regarding asbestos awareness. Although Asbestosic.com works for asbestos awareness, it will be an eternal campaign to spread asbestos awareness in every corner of the world.