Asbestos cancer mechanism

The mechanism by which asbestos causes cancer is based heavily upon the physical attributes of asbestos itself rather than its chemical properties.
Asbestos comes in many forms and asbestos fibers develop in two basic forms. Some kinds of asbestos may be associated with relatively low cancer generating potential compared with other kinds of asbestos.
Asbestos fibers essentially exist in two major forms. In fact, asbestos fibers tend to separate readily from each other and can exist as single microscopic strands. The chrysolite form of asbestos is curly types sometimes called “serpentine.” The (crocidolite, amosite, anthophylite, tremolite, and actinolyte) types of asbestos are straighter; sometimes described as “rod-like.”

Chrysolite, crocidolite, and amosite are usually mined for commercial and industrial use. Which means that two out of three of the most commonly mined types of asbestos produce fibers that are rod like which are more commonly associated with higher rates of cancer.
The straighter rod-like fibers move more easily within the respiratory tract once they have been inhaled. Because of this, they can readily be deposited in the deeper parts of the respiratory tract where they may remain for a long time or may be transported to the pleura or peritoneum and thus cause asbestos cancer.

Not all asbestos fibers inhaled through the respiratory system remain in the respiratory tract or even the body. Many are removed through natural purification systems. It is the ones that remain in the lining of the lungs that lead to an inflammatory and scarring process mediated by various inflammatory chemical substances released by the lung tissue.
No matter how they are transported or where asbestos exposure occurs, there is a high rate of cancer associated with them. If you have an asbestos cancer diagnosis, and you cannot remember how you were exposed to asbestos remember that these tiny fibers may have been present without realizing. Visit our asbestos exposure section for more information.

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