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Asbestos: No early Warning Signs

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James Casto, from Clendenin, West Virginia developed a spot on his lung two years ago. A biopsy determined that it was carcinogenic: traces of asbestos were found.

Casto is in his early 60s. He worked for 18 years at Pennzoil, the oil company, in every facet of oil refining, from heavy equipment operator to oil pumping to actual processing, i.e. turning crude oil into gasoline and motor oil.

"I don't believe my Dad had any warnings about asbestos," says his son, Tom Casto. "I would say that at the exposure time, none of us knew any risks. It wasn't publicized like it is today. But Dad developed a spot on his lung and last September it grew. Then the doctors decided that he needed surgery."

The upper lobe of his left lung was completely removed. He had to stay in hospital for 19 days the first time. Then he had to go back because he contracted a staph infection and spent another 10 days in hospital. "My parents have huge medical bills due to lung cancer and recent treatment and surgeries," says Tom.

"My Dad has been able to return to work but he is very tired," Tom says."He is finally able to walk and is trying to get his breathing capacity back to a decent level.

"It's been very difficult - you never want to lose a parent. I'm an only child. I want my Dad to stick around for a while. He has been going to the doctor on a regular basis but I am really concerned about his health," says Tom.

And he should be concerned. Countless workers have been exposed to asbestos on the job - over many years - without knowing the deadly consequences. This hazardous material has left its mark on many, mostly in the form of mesothelioma, a rare cancer caused by asbestos exposure.

Even a short exposure to asbestos can result in mesothelioma. It is particulary insidious because families of workers can also be at risk through dust brought home on clothing. Sadly, many workers had no idea that they were not only endangering themselves, but their loved ones as well.

Asbestos has been used in many products, especially building materials. Ironically, asbestos is the world's most effective fire retardant, yet deadly if inhaled. Workers involved in the production of asbestos products are at greatest risk. Often, early warning signs of mesothelioma can occur years after asbestos exposure. If you or a loved one has been exposed to asbestos, see your doctor immediately; an early diagnosis is always the best.


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