The Link Between Asbestos Exposure & Gastrointestinal Cancer
Asbestos is a known carcinogen (cancer-causing substance). In recent years, researchers have found that asbestos exposure increases the risk of stomach cancer and other gastrointestinal cancers. Asbestos is already known to cause serious diseases like lung cancer and mesothelioma.
When people breathe in or swallow asbestos fibers, the fibers can get stuck in the gastrointestinal system, leading to scarring, inflammation, and eventually, cancer.
Gastrointestinal (GI) cancer refers to any type of cancer that forms in the digestive tract, which starts at the esophagus and ends at the anus.
Researchers believe that as advancements are made in understanding mesothelioma and asbestos lung cancer, the understanding of asbestos gastrointestinal cancers will also improve.
If you were exposed to asbestos and later developed GI cancer, Lung Cancer Group may be able to help you get financial compensation. Get started with a free case review now.
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Risk Factors for Asbestos Gastrointestinal Cancer
Workers who were exposed to asbestos every day while working with products like asbestos cement, insulation, and more are at an even greater risk. In a 2015 study published in the British Journal of Cancer, occupational asbestos exposure was found to increase the risk of stomach cancer, a type of GI cancer, among workers.
Other things can further increase the chance of getting asbestos-related gastrointestinal cancer.
- Being exposed to asbestos
- Being overweight
- Being male and over the age of 50
- Consuming large amounts of alcohol
- Having a family history of cancer
- Having medical conditions like colon polyps, HPV, and hepatitis C
- Having a poor diet
- Working at a high-risk asbestos occupation
If you are at an increased risk of GI cancer, talk with your doctor to determine if routine screening would be a good option for you.
Symptoms of Asbestos Gastrointestinal Cancer
Gastrointestinal cancer can develop in any part of the digestive tract. For this reason, symptoms can vary depending on where the cancer has formed.
Common signs and symptoms of asbestos gastrointestinal cancer include:
- Fatigue and weakness
- Feeling full even after eating only a little bit
- Heartburn or indigestion
- Nausea and vomiting
- Stomach pain
- Unintended weight loss
Many people may have no symptoms in the early stages of GI cancer. Those who are at risk should consider getting frequent cancer screenings to help doctors diagnose and treat asbestos gastrointestinal cancer sooner.
Types of Gastrointestinal Cancer
There are several types of gastrointestinal cancer that can be caused by asbestos exposure. Learn about each type below.
Anal cancer is when cancerous cells develop in the tissues of the anus. Most anal cancers are linked to human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. Symptoms include bleeding from the rectum or anus or a lump near the anus.
Bile Duct and Gallbladder Cancer
Bile duct cancer forms in the tubes that transport digestive fluids, while gallbladder cancer forms in the gallbladder, which stores digestive fluid from the liver. Bile duct cancer and gallbladder cancer often occur together, according to Mount Sinai Medical Center.
These cancers may not cause a lot of symptoms and may go completely unnoticed until they have spread to other parts of the body like the liver or stomach. Those who have a history of gallstones may also be at a higher risk of these types of GI cancer.
Colon cancer develops in the muscles of the large intestine, which breaks down food and absorbs any remaining nutrients for the body to use. About 100,000 cases of colon cancer are diagnosed each year.
Colon cancer usually starts as small cell clumps called polyps that form on the inside of the colon.
Esophageal and Throat Cancer
Esophageal cancer develops in the esophagus, the tube that connects the throat to the stomach. It usually starts in the cells that line the inside of the esophagus. Men are more likely to get esophageal cancer than women.
Throat cancer can be considered GI cancer when it affects the pharynx, a muscle that moves food from the throat to the esophagus.
Symptoms of these cancers may include:
- Crackly or hoarse voice
- Shortness of breath
- Sore throat
- Trouble swallowing
Liver cancer develops within the liver, the organ behind the ribs that filters toxins from the body.
Cancer that starts in the liver is rare, but it is more common for those with chronic diseases, such as fatty liver disease and hepatitis C.
Symptoms of liver cancer may include:
- Loss of appetite
- Pain on the right side
- Swelling of the abdomen
- Weight loss
- Yellowing skin (jaundice)
Pancreatic cancer affects the pancreas, a gland that helps stabilize blood sugar levels. Most pancreatic cancer is adenocarcinoma, which develops in mucus-secreting glands.
Symptoms for pancreatic cancer may be nonspecific, but some patients experience pain around the ribs and weight loss.
Small Intestine Cancer
Small intestine cancer (also called small bowel cancer) is one of the rarer GI cancers, but people who have Crohn’s disease or other chronic digestive conditions may have an increased risk.
Symptoms for this type often include pain, discolored stool, and jaundice.
Also known as gastric cancer, stomach cancer often forms in the space where the esophagus and stomach meet. Symptoms are often similar to other gastrointestinal cancers, with nausea and vomiting being common symptoms.
Asbestos may increase the risk of any type of gastrointestinal cancer. If you were exposed to asbestos and are now sick, you may qualify for financial compensation. Contact us now to see how we can help.
Diagnosing Asbestos Gastrointestinal Cancer
To get a diagnosis for GI cancer, you’ll need to get the following:
- Physical exam so a doctor can assess your symptoms (if any) and discuss your medical history (including if you were ever exposed to asbestos).
- Imaging tests like X-rays, MRIs, or CT scans, which allow doctors to look for cancer tumors in your gastrointestinal tract. You may also need to get a barium swallow (in which you’ll consume a special liquid to make the GI tract more visible on scans).
- Biopsy to take a sample of abnormal tissue or fluid. For GI cancer, biopsy samples can be taken during an endoscopy, a procedure that leads a long flexible tube with a camera through the esophagus. If abnormal cells are detected in the colon or rectum, doctors can retrieve samples through a colonoscopy.
Talk to your oncology (cancer) doctor to learn more about your diagnostic options.
Stages of Asbestos Gastrointestinal Cancer
Since gastrointestinal cancer is a group of multiple types of cancer, each type will have a unique description of all stages.
However, there are generally four stages of GI cancers:
- Stage 1: The cancer is localized in one area and has not spread to lymph nodes
- Stage 2: The cancer has begun to spread, but not yet to lymph nodes or other parts of the body.
- Stage 3: The cancer has spread to lymph nodes, but has not reached other parts of the body.
- Stage 4: The cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
To get more specific staging information, talk with your doctor about your specific type of GI cancer.
Asbestos Gastrointestinal Cancer Prognosis
The prognosis (projected health outcome) of asbestos GI cancer depends on various factors, including your age, health, and stage of the cancer at diagnosis.
Generally speaking, younger patients, those in good overall health outside of having cancer, and those with early-stage cancer tend to have a better prognosis.
Prognosis is often measured with two different terms:
- Life expectancy, which refers to how long a patient is expected to live after diagnosis.
- Survival rate, which is the chance of a patient surviving beyond a certain time period.
The life expectancies and survival rates are different for each type of GI cancer, but some types have positive prognoses. For example, people diagnosed in earlier stages of colon cancer are often able to live for more than 5 years.
Treatment Options for Asbestos Gastrointestinal Cancer
The best way for patients diagnosed with asbestos gastrointestinal cancer to improve their prognosis is to receive treatment.
Common treatments for asbestos gastrointestinal cancer include:
- Surgery involves removing cancerous tissue. If a lot of tissue is removed, doctors may have to perform reconstruction as well.
- Chemotherapy drugs kill fast-growing cancer cells. Patients can receive chemo before, after, or alongside other treatments. Doctors may also bathe a surgery site with chemotherapy drugs.
- Radiation therapy uses energy beams to kill cancer cells. The beams can come from protons, X-rays, and other sources. Doctors often perform radiation therapy at the same time as chemotherapy (chemoradiation).
- Targeted therapy uses drugs to attack specific chemicals in cancer cells. They cause cancer cells to die by blocking these chemicals.
- Immunotherapy uses medicine to help your body’s immune system fight cancer. It is often used to treat advanced and recurring cancer.
The treatment options patients will receive depend on their symptoms, cancer staging, and overall health.
Treatment can feel out of reach for many families because of the cost. Thankfully, there is financial help available for those whose cancer was caused by asbestos. See how Lung Cancer Group can help you with a free case review now.
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Compensation Options for Asbestos Gastrointestinal Cancer Victims
There are multiple options for compensation for those who were exposed to asbestos and later developed a gastrointestinal cancer.
A trusted asbestos lawyer at a national law firm may be able to help patients and their families access the following compensation options.
Asbestos Trust Fund Claims
Asbestos trust fund claims were established by asbestos manufacturers that have declared bankruptcy. They compensate asbestos victims and their families for asbestos-related illnesses, such as gastrointestinal cancer. There is $30 billion still available in asbestos trusts today.
If you have gastrointestinal cancer, you may be able to file an asbestos lawsuit to get compensation. Some families have received hundreds of thousands of dollars. Patients themselves can file lawsuits, or surviving family members can file wrongful death lawsuits if a loved one passed away from an asbestos gastrointestinal cancer.
U.S. veterans may have been exposed to asbestos if they served prior to the early 1980s. As a result, they are eligible for benefits for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
These benefits can include VA health care, disability compensation, and monthly payments to surviving family members.
Find Help for an Asbestos Gastrointestinal Cancer Diagnosis
Anyone who was exposed to asbestos-containing products decades ago could be at risk of gastrointestinal cancers today.
A GI cancer diagnosis can be life-changing and overwhelming — but Lung Cancer Group may be able to help you and your loved ones.
If eligible, our compassionate team can connect you with the financial assistance you deserve, so you can afford the treatments you need without stressing about how you’ll pay for them. This way, you can focus on your health and spending time with your family.
Contact us now to learn more about how we can help you.
Asbestos Gastrointestinal Cancer FAQs
Can asbestos cause gastrointestinal cancer?
Possibly, yes. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has stated that asbestos may increase the risk of gastrointestinal cancers, especially stomach and colon cancer.
Asbestos is a cancer-causing fibrous mineral that is often found in building materials, like asbestos cement, insulation, and more. Anyone exposed may be at risk of gastrointestinal cancers later in life.
What are the signs of gastrointestinal cancer?
Symptoms of asbestos-caused GI cancer may include:
- Weight loss
Talk to your doctor if you have these symptoms or others that you’re concerned about. They can determine whether you have asbestos gastrointestinal cancer or another condition.
Is gastrointestinal cancer fatal?
Not always. Some patients, especially those diagnosed in early stages, can survive for years or even decades after their asbestos gastrointestinal cancer diagnosis.
The best way to improve survival is to get treated. Doctors can recommend treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and more, all of which may be able to help you live longer.
Can you sue for asbestos gastrointestinal cancer?
Yes, you may be able to sue for asbestos GI cancer to retrieve financial compensation. Call our team at (877) 446-5767 now to see how we can help with this process.