Exposure to Asbestos and the Risk of Colorectal Cancer Mortality

Since the 1940s, millions of Americans have had asbestos exposure even though medical consensus has determined the material as highly toxic. Furthermore, an estimated 3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma, which medical experts believe links directly to asbestos exposure.

         Mesothelioma is one of the leading causes of death after asbestos exposure. Statistics also show that 90% of mesothelioma cases stemmed from exposure to this carcinogenic substance. Aside from this, asbestos exposure may also be linked to colorectal cancers.

         Dealing with mesothelioma is strenuous, grueling, and yet all with a silver lining, as you have first-hand experience with this condition. I’ve turned to sites like The Mesothelioma Group for comfort during critical times.

         When talking about mesothelioma and colorectal cancer, one makes you wonder if asbestos exposure can be a cause. Also, how does one get exposed to asbestos today?

         Through personal experience, I have understood more about mesothelioma and how it can spread in the body to affect other organs. This article will help guide you in dealing with this disease or if you’re providing care for someone you love living with this type of cancer. Also, you will know how to avoid asbestos exposure and lower the risk of contracting asbestos-related conditions.

The Day We Learned My Grandma Got Cancer

          My story starts a year ago when my grandmother was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma, which can spread to surrounding organs near the abdomen. For quite some time, my grandmother felt symptoms of the disease, though we didn’t know those were signs of mesothelioma.

         Typical signs to look for when people have possible mesothelioma are:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Unusual lumps of tissue under your skin
  • Painful coughing
  • Abdominal pain
  • Abdominal swelling (ascites)
  • Night sweats
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bowel or urinary problems

         Though those symptoms may be due to other diseases, it was when things got worse that we decided to have an examination. Because of that, and from my experience, you should have regular screening for cancers when applicable. The American Cancer Society suggested having regular colorectal cancer screening upon reaching 46 years of age.

         I began to ask questions. How did my grandma get mesothelioma? I knew this type of cancer had links to asbestos exposure, yet I didn’t know how she got exposed to such toxic material.

         I dug a little deeper into the cause of her asbestos exposure. I found out that inhaling asbestos may not trigger symptoms immediately. It might get lodged in the lungs, which it should stay for years, slowly deteriorating the lungs and may affect the surrounding cell’s DNA, causing it to turn cancerous.

         Asbestos was once a mainstay material in construction in many homes. Disturbance of objects with asbestos releases microfibers into the air and may get inhaled or ingested by people. From there, I knew that my grandma got her asbestos exposure from building materials found in her old home.

         It was a shock to learn my grandma had cancer. It was now the time to act and adjust to life, and we quickly connected with experts to find ways to deal with mesothelioma.

Life After Cancer Diagnosis

After several more trips to the diagnostics center, we discovered that my grandma had peritoneal mesothelioma. Around 300 to 500 cases of peritoneal mesothelioma are diagnosed in the U.S.each year. My grandma was one of them and so started life after diagnosis.

         We quickly followed up on the diagnosis by seeking treatments to contain the spread of cancer. We initially sought possible surgery, but my grandma was not qualified. Peritoneal mesothelioma surgery is very intensive, and the patient must be very fit to be applicable for that option. Also, surgery doesn’t offer a guaranteed solution to remove all cancer cells.

         Because of this, the next option was chemotherapy, and she underwent the rigors of the battery of medication. Chemo usually lasts for 2 to 3 weeks. Common drugs used for the procedure are the following:

  • cisplatin
  • pemetrexed
  • gemcitabine
  • vinorelbine
  • carboplatin

         However, her prognosis worsened as cancer spread quickly in her abdomen. Asbestos got lodged in the peritoneum, a membrane covering the abdominal cavity. The cancer spread to her colon, which worsened to colorectal cancer.

Cancer cells usually metastasize as they worsen. It spreads through the bloodstream or to adjacent organs in the body. At this point, it is usually termed Stage 4 cancer and is considered, in many cases, terminal.

         A few months passed, and we placed my grandma in palliative care as chemotherapy was no longer an option. My grandma passed away only after a year of treatment. Colorectal cancer has a high mortality rate when it has spread or metastasized.

What We’ve Learned About Mesothelioma?

          My experience with mesothelioma made me realize the necessity of precautions to prevent such diseases. Asbestos is so prevalent in American society that many old buildings and houses still have asbestos locked inside insulations, tiles, and the like.

         Having your home checked for asbestos may be one of the first steps to prevent this cancer from happening. It is not uncommon for people to develop mesothelioma years after asbestos exposure.

         Remember that there are no “safe levels” for asbestos exposure. This toxic substance can do so much damage to your body; a single exposure is already dangerous. Repeat exposure will just increase your likelihood of developing the asbestos-related disease.

         Also, the need for a healthy diet is essential. Include lots of fruits and vegetables. Eat whole grains, and eat less red meat, especially processed ones. There is a growing agreement in the medical field that overconsumption processed meat like sausages and luncheon meat may increase the risk of colorectal cancer.

         Exercise regularly and always be physically active. Many sicknesses are linked to a sedentary lifestyle, and colorectal cancer is one of them. Reduce the risk by exercising daily and keeping a healthy weight. Being overweight may increase the risk of diseases in the heart and, in this case, the colon.

         Ultimately, my experience with my grandma taught me the importance of not taking life for granted. Enjoy the company of people you love and do it every day. Life can be difficult at times, but each day of love makes every moment a time of happiness.


  1. Asbestos Exposure and Your Health


  1. Peritoneal Mesothelioma


  1. Asbestos Exposure and Cancer Risk