Diesel Injury Law

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Railroad Workers & Colon/Rectal Cancers

Hughes Law Offices handles colon cancer cases on behalf of railroad workers. Railroad workers are particularly susceptible to colon and rectal cancers because they endure regular exposures to asbestos, diesel exhaust, secondhand smoke, and benzene-containing solvents and degreasers. All of these railroad workplace toxins can contribute to colon and rectal cancers.

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    Colorectal cancer (i.e. rectal cancer or colon cancer) is a cancer that begins to form in the colon or rectum. Though colon cancer and rectal cancer are two distinct diagnoses, they are often merged together, as the diagnoses share very similar make-ups, symptoms, and treatments.

    Most colorectal cancers are detectable through growths on the inner linings of the colon or rectum. These growths, known as polyps, can develop into different forms of cancer. Adenocarcinomas start to form in the mucus inside the colon and rectum, and this form of cancer makes up the vast majority of cases. Other forms of colorectal cancer include carcinoid tumors, gastrointestinal stromal tumors, lymphomas, and sarcomas.

    Colorectal cancer has a variety of risk factors that increase a person’s chances of getting the cancer. In defending these cases, the railroads will focus on these “pre-existing conditions.” These risk factors include obesity, poor diet, history of smoking and alcohol use, and family history. In addition to cigarette smoking, toxic exposures to diesel exhaust, asbestos and secondhand smoke can also cause colorectal cancer.

    Colon and Rectal Cancers Linked to Railroad Diesel Exposures

    Our experts can link occupational diesel exhaust exposures to significantly increased risk of colon and rectal cancers. For instance, studies indicate that railroad workers, who regularly endure diesel exposures, are at double the risk for colon cancer compared to non-exposed individuals. Diesel exhaust is composed of compounds such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH’s), benzene, toluene and xylene. All of those components are associated with increased risk for colon and/or rectal cancers. We prove medical causation in our cases by studying these unique components of diesel exhaust, many of which are also found in cigarette smoke.

    Other Railroad Exposures That Cause Colon/Rectal Cancers

    Many workers with diesel exposures are also subject to other toxic exposures. Railroad shop workers utilizing solvents and degreasers are at increased risk for colon and rectal cancers. Petroleum-based solvents contain many of the same carcinogens found in diesel exhaust, such as benzene and toluene.

    Asbestos exposures can lead to colorectal cancer. Asbestos can be found in insulation, cement, brakes, clutches, gaskets and other materials used in industrial settings. When ingested by railroad workers, asbestos fibers can pass through the digestive track and increase the risk of colon cancer and rectal cancer.

    Not surprisingly, secondhand smoke exposures put individuals at risk for colon and rectal cancers. The U.S. Surgeon General has linked the relationship between cigarette smoke and colorectal cancers. Non-smoking railroad workers forced to work around smokers are at elevated risk for colon cancer.

    Though researchers continue to investigate their relationship, some studies have found ties between pesticides and herbicides and an increased risk of colorectal cancer. Pesticides and herbicides are utilized by railroads along their main lines and in rail yards.  These chemicals have been known to contribute to a multitude of other disorders and illnesses in humans, including Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and Acute Myelogenous Leukemia.

    Hughes Law Offices will take all these exposures into account when proving up your railroad colon cancer case.

    Importance of Colorectal Cancer Screenings

    Colorectal cancer symptoms only occur after the cancer has begun to progress. Some symptoms that may appear include changes in bowel habits, such as diarrhea and constipation; rectal bleeding or blood in the stool; unintentional or unexplained weight loss; fatigue; and pain in the abdominal region. Additionally, one of the first signs of colorectal cancer is commonly a blood test showing low red blood cell counts, as the cancer can lead to blood loss when left undetected for a longer period of time. (cancer.org)

    Because blood tests can indicate whether colorectal cancer exists, they are often used to help diagnose the cancer. Other tests to find colorectal cancer include colonoscopies, biopsies of suspicious areas of the colon or rectum, and ultrasounds. Once diagnosed, colorectal cancer can be treated in many ways. Like other cancers, chemotherapy and radiation may be used to reduce the cancer’s size and eliminate the bad cells. Additionally, the patient can opt for surgery to remove the tumor from the colon or rectum. Treatment for colorectal cancer is dependent on the stage of the cancer and each patient’s individual needs.

    Contact a Railroad Cancer Lawyer

    If you believe you are suffering from colorectal cancer due to toxic railroad exposures, our team at Hughes Law Offices can fight on your behalf. Contact us today to get started.  Call 312-877-5588.

    Illustrative Colorectal Cancer Cases

    Confidential Settlement – Hughes Law Offices represented a former conductor for a Class I railroad who was diagnosed with colon cancer, which eventually lead to his death.  Our client had no risk factors for colon cancer and yet was exposed to asbestos, diesel exhaust and secondhand cigarette smoke throughout his four decades of service. The building where our client spent a great deal of time was full of asbestos-containing paneling which the railroad failed to remediate.

    The case summaries provided above are for informational purposes.  Unless specifically noted, Hughes Law Offices was not involved in the subject litigation.

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