What is Asbestos-related Lung Cancer?


Lung cancer resulting from asbestos exposure commonly presents with coughing of blood-stained sputum and breathlessness

It is diagnosed on the basis of chest X-ray, CT scan and bronchoscopy: that is an examination of the airways of the lungs with a special flexible telescope passed up the nose and down into the lungs under local anaesthesia.

It is treated in the same way as lung cancer caused by smoking with surgery to remove it if possible, radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

It can be cured by treatment in about 10% of cases. Otherwise, the average survival is around one year.


Common Investigations cover

Investigations to diagnose asbestos-related conditions.pdf

Asbestos and Smoking


  • Asbestos causes the same types of lung cancer as are caused by smoking.

The risk of mesothelioma is not affected by smoking.

Heavy asbestos exposure is necessary to cause lung cancer. Light exposure which is sufficient to cause mesothelioma may not be enough to cause lung cancer. Detailed consideration of the history of exposure in the individual case is necessary to decide whether it is likely that asbestos played a part in causing lung cancer.

Please note:  To satisfy the criteria for Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit & state/government compensation for lung cancer, you must either be suffering from lung cancer and asbestosis or primary lung cancer with significant occupational exposure to asbestos within a very narrow range of occupations. You can find out more information on our Fact Sheet.

Source: Dr Robin Rudd, MA MD FRCP, Consultant Oncologist

Reviewed by Dr Robin Rudd: March 2017

pdf icon CAA-Fact-Sheet-Lung-Cancer & IIDB.pdf

pdf iconThe joint effect of asbestos exposure and smoking on the risk of lung cancer mortality for asbestos workers (1971-2005) HSE.pdf