Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Can you get lung cancer from asbestos exposure?"
My husband has had some health problems lately and is a smoker. He was helping to build a haunted house today in an old church. He found out that there was asbestos in the walls. He was drilling into the walls and not wearing a mask. He is very concerned that he will now get lung cancer, and it will not show up for 10 years. In your opinion do you feel that after one day of exposure for a few hours he will get lung cancer from this?
That is an excellent question. I can definitely understand the concern that your husband has about lung cancer after being exposed to asbestos. He has a valid concern and certainly should be evaluated by a medical professional such as his primary care doctor because of this exposure. Cancer of the lung related to asbestos is a real condition and is known as mesothelioma. Most commonly, people who develop this disease have had very long exposures to asbestos and so the likelihood of developing lung cancer from the one hour your husband had is unlikely. On the other hand, if your husband is a long standing smoker, he is definitely at risk of developing lung cancer and I would suggest that he also discuss strategies for quitting smoking during this appointment as well. Men who smoke are 23 times more likely to develop lung cancer than those who don't smoke. However, it is never too late to quit and this immediately reduces his change of developing cancer. Again, it is very important for your husband to make an appointment with his primary care doctor to discuss his brief asbestos exposure, and also to discuss a strategy to help him quit smoking.
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