Our lungs play a critical role in our overall health. A major part of keeping the lungs healthy is to not smoke and to avoid exposure to asbestos.

While there are many materials and chemicals that can damage the lungs, asbestos is particularly awful. Asbestos is a known, deadly carcinogen and it also can cause many other medical problems if it is inhaled.

Below are the most common diseases that can be caused by asbestos exposure:


Mesothelioma is a very rare cancer, and until recent years, many Americans did not know what it is. However, it is a particularly deadly and painful cancer. The most unusual aspect of mesothelioma is that it has a very long latency period from 10 to 50 years. Also, most people get diagnosed in stage 3 or 4, so their chances of survival are slim to none.

Mesothelioma is virtually always due to exposure to asbestos. Many clinical studies have shown there is a clear link between asbestos exposure and mesothelioma. These studies have proven how asbestos gets stuck in the mesothelial tissue. It causes inflammation that can lead to the development of tumors that affect the lining of the lungs and other organs.

The most common form of this deadly asbestos related disease is pleural mesothelioma. This type of mesothelioma starts in the pleura, or lung lining. The pleura usually allows the lungs to move in the chest cavity as they expand and contract with each breath.

When asbestos gets stuck in the pleura, problems may occur. The delicate tissue can get inflamed and pleural effusion, which means fluid buildup around the lungs, make it hard for the person to breath.


Asbestosis is a fibrosis problem in the lungs, which means that there is development of excessive connective tissue in the lungs. This can lead to scarring and inflammation, and generally difficulty breathing. These problems can occur in and around the lungs. Asbestosis may be a precursor to mesothelioma for some patients.

The very first case of asbestosis that was documented was in the early 1900s in London. She was only in her 40s and she suddenly died at home. An autopsy showed that she had terrible scarring and fibrous tissue in the lungs. It was with her death that the term ‘asbestosis’ came into being.

One of the dangerous aspects of asbestosis is that it may be mistaken for other lung diseases. One way that doctors can check if it is related to asbestos is to see if there are pleural plaques in the lungs.

There is no cure for asbestosis, and people who have it may die from other conditions, such as the flu, pneumonia and sometimes other types of cancer.

Lung Cancer

Tobacco use often causes lung cancer, but not always. There have been many studies that suggest that people who were exposed to asbestos are at higher risk of getting lung cancer. Mesothelioma is of course the most common type of cancer related to asbestos exposure, but lung cancer also can develop after the lung tissue is inflamed from asbestos fibers.

Smoking also can increase the chances of someone who was exposed to asbestos to get lung cancer. People who smoke and were exposed to asbestos have a much higher chance of getting lung cancer or mesothelioma.

If you want to keep your lungs healthy, it is very important to use care if you are remodeling or restoring any type of construction project at home or work. There is often asbestos in the walls and around the pipes and duct work of older buildings. While that asbestos is of no risk when it is behind walls, it can be very dangerous when the asbestos is exposed to the open air.

Treatment Option for Lung Cancer and Mesothelioma

If you were exposed to asbestos and have developed lung cancer or mesothelioma, you may be recommended to undergo chemotherapy. One of the new chemotherapy drugs that can be effective on both cancers is Navelbine, which has been used to treat mesothelioma for a few years.

The generic version of Navelbine is called vinorelbine. This drug was first discovered in 1978 in Europe. Several million people have been treated in at least 80 countries with this drug since it was first launched to treat several other cancers.

If your doctor decides to treat you with Navelbine, it may be administered  via IV or in a capsule. Clinical trials show that 25% of patients with lung cancer or mesothelioma had a good response to it. While 25% may sound low, it still is a higher success rate than most other forms of chemo drugs.

Navelbine can block the growth of the cancer by preventing cancer cells from reproducing. It also can be made more effective with other chemotherapy drugs.