Understanding Survival in Asbestos-Linked Cancers: How Asbestos Exposure Matters

Understanding Survival in Asbestos-Linked Cancers: How Asbestos Exposure Matters

Malignant mesothelioma is a cancer caused by asbestos, and it’s tough to beat. But, some people with this cancer live longer than expected. A recent study in a science journal called Toxics looked at patients with mesothelioma and asbestos-related lung cancer. All of them had been around asbestos between 2009 and 2021.

The Hidden Impact of Asbestos

The study found some interesting things. People who got exposed to asbestos at work not only lived for a shorter time but also had lower chances of surviving longer. This compares to those who were around asbestos in the environment. They found that the longer someone worked with asbestos and the closer they were to it, the less time they lived with both cancers.

For folks exposed at work, the biggest risks were for those in jobs making things with asbestos, whether they had mesothelioma or lung cancer. But, people exposed to asbestos in their environment faced bigger risks. These are patients who lived near places using asbestos, like slate houses or redevelopment areas.

Asbestos Exposure and Cancer Survival

Asbestos used to be popular because it was strong, cheap, and could take the heat. But it’s harmful too, and most places now ban its use. Both mesothelioma and asbestos-linked lung cancer come from being around this dangerous material.

In 2019, 35,000 people died from mesothelioma globally. And about 180,000 people die from asbestos-related lung cancer every year. These cancers are hard to survive. Mesothelioma gives less than a 5% chance of living five years after diagnosis.

Experts say different things might affect how long someone lives with these cancers linked to asbestos. These might include age, lifestyle choices (like smoking), and even genes. Scientists are trying to figure out who might die sooner from these cancers. They even made a way to predict how long someone might live with these cancers.

The way someone gets exposed to asbestos seems also important. Other studies said industries like making things or building stuff had more mesothelioma cases. Another study hinted that people who got exposed to asbestos at work lived for a shorter time compared to those who didn’t.

But those studies didn’t go deep enough. They just looked at whether someone worked with asbestos or what job they had. They didn’t think about how long someone was around asbestos or how often, or if they got exposed in their environment, too.

This new study wanted to find out how different parts of asbestos exposure affected how long people lived with these cancers. They followed these patients to learn how each part of exposure affected how long they lived.

Understanding how asbestos exposure affects how long someone lives with these cancers might help make better treatments. It could help people facing these tough diseases live better lives.


Kang, Min-Sung, Woo-Ri Chae, Yong-Jin Lee, and Kyong Whan Moon. “Occupational and Environmental Asbestos Exposure and Survival of Patients with Asbestos-Related Cancer: A Follow-Up Study on Patients with Malignant Mesothelioma and Asbestos-Related Lung Cancer in Korea.” Toxics 12, no. 1 (January 2024): 20. https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics12010020.

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