Doctor looking at XrayDoctor looking at Xray

Exposure to asbestos can cause several different diseases. Some are cancers and other cause scars in and on the lungs, but each presents significant and unique challenges for those affected. Some of the most common diseases are:


Rare cancer – almost always caused by asbestos exposure – develops in the lining, or mesothelium, of internal organs, including the lungs, stomach, or heart. About 3,000 cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed in the U.S. annually, with the average age of diagnosis being 69.

The three forms of mesothelioma are:

Pleural Mesothelioma

The most common form accounts for approximately 70% of all those diagnosed with mesothelioma. Occurs in the “pleura,” or the lining over the lungs. Symptoms may include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Fluid build-up in the chest
  • Weight loss

Peritoneal Mesothelioma

Peritoneal Mesothelioma occurs in the “peritoneum,” or the lining of the abdominal cavity. Symptoms may include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Bowel obstruction
  • Weight loss

Pericardial Mesothelioma

Pericardial Mesothelioma occurs in the “pericardium,” or the lining of the heart. Symptoms may include:

  • Chest pain
  • Cardiac problems such as arrhythmia, murmurs, and palpitations
  • Fluid buildup in the heart
  • Weight loss


Scarring of delicate lung tissue. This chronic scarring can spread through the lungs and cause breathing problems. Asbestosis is not a type of cancer; however, being diagnosed with this means you may face a higher risk of developing cancer. The scarring of the lungs, called asbestosis, generally starts in the bases of the lungs. It can cause shortness of breath and can get worse. This scarring from asbestos can often be seen by doctors on chest x-rays or on chest CT scans. Asbestosis can also be seen under a microscope.

Pleural Effusions or Plaques

Pleural effusions (fluid on the lungs) or pleural plaques (scarring on the lining of the lungs) can make breathing difficult and cause chest pain.


In addition to mesothelioma, asbestos exposure can cause several types of cancer, including lung, colon, esophageal, and laryngeal cancers. Since asbestos fibers are invisible, tasteless, and odorless, people often swallow them without knowing, creating issues in other regions of the body. If you have developed cancer and believe asbestos exposure is to blame, there are many tests available, including imaging and tissue biopsies, that allow medical professionals to evaluate the cause.


Affected by An Asbestos-Related Disease?

If you suspect that you or someone you know has been injured by asbestos, contact our office or call us at 1-800-531-9191. The law limits the time within which you must act to receive compensation. We may be able to help in seeking compensation for you, from a number of sources, including workers’ compensation benefits and actions against responsible parties, including payment for lost wages and hospital, doctor, and drug costs.