Laryngeal cancer is a disease where malignant cancer cells form in the tissues of the larynx. The larynx is part of the throat behind the tongue and contains vocal cords which vibrate and make sounds when in contact with air. Most laryngeal cancers form in squamous cells, which are the thin, flat cells lining the inside of the larynx. If left untreated, laryngeal cancer may spread to nearby tissues, the thyroid, trachea, or esophagus. More advanced cases of laryngeal cancer can also spread to the carotid artery, upper spine, and chest
Laryngeal Cancer and Diesel Exhaust
There are many components of diesel exhaust that can increase your risk of laryngeal cancer. Several metals, organic chemicals, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) that are found in diesel emissions have been known to contribute to laryngeal cancer.
Beryllium, chromium, and nickel are metals that are found in diesel particulates. All three of those metals are linked to higher risks of laryngeal cancer. These metals are considered “toxic” because of the adverse effects they have on a person’s health over a prolonged period of exposure. For instance, if a 30-year locomotive engineer inhaled diesel exhaust on a daily basis, he or she would have endured exposures to beryllium, chromium and nickel via those diesel exposures and those metal exposures can be tied to the laryngeal cancer diagnosis.
Formaldehyde and benzene are organic chemicals that are found in diesel exhaust. Formaldehyde is a clear, strong-smelling gas. Benzene is a widely used industrial chemical that is a naturally occurring component of crude oil. Our experts believe there is no “safe” level of exposure to benzene. Chronic exposures to formaldehyde and benzene – via diesel exhaust or other compounds – can cause laryngeal cancer.
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are chemicals that occur naturally when coal, oil, and gasoline are burned. There are over 100 different chemicals that are considered PAHs, many of which can be found in diesel fumes. PAHs are also one of the significant carcinogens found in cigarette smoke. Chronic PAH exposures via cigarettes or diesel exhaust can lead to laryngeal cancer.
Laryngeal Cancer and Solvents
Perchloroethylene (PCE) is a solvent that is often used in industrial settings to degrease metals. Many railroad car department employees and locomotive machinists have endured long-term exposures to PCEs. PCE exposures are a recognized risk factor for laryngeal cancer.
Other Causes of Laryngeal Cancer
Other known contributors of laryngeal cancer include wood dust, soot, paint fumes, or burning coal as a fuel source, as they have been known to irritate the lining of the larynx. Additionally, a 2006 report from the National Institutes of Health found a direct link between asbestos and laryngeal cancer. And while railroads will claim that their workers are no longer exposed to asbestos, that remains up for debate.
Importance of Laryngeal Cancer Screenings
Laryngeal cancer can be treated, and the chance of recovery is dependent on the stage of the disease, the grade, location and size of the tumor, as well as the patient’s age and general health. Symptoms of laryngeal cancer include a consistent sore throat or cough, trouble or pain when swallowing, ear pain, lumps in the neck or throat, and a change in the hoarseness of one’s voice.
Tests to examine the throat and neck are important to diagnose and treat laryngeal cancer early. This can be done through physical exams, biopsies, or other methods including scans and laboratory testing. Once diagnosed, radiation therapy, surgery, and chemotherapy can be used to treat cancer and prevent it from spreading to other parts of the body. According to data collected in 2019, about 12,410 new cases of laryngeal cancer are diagnosed in the United States every year, with the 5-year survival rate hitting about 60%. (asbestos.com)
Contact a Railroad Cancer Lawyer
If you believe you are suffering from laryngeal cancer due to railroad employment, our team at Hughes Law Offices can fight on your behalf. Contact us today at 312-877-5588 to get started.
Laryngeal Cancer Verdicts
$872,756 verdict – Railroad engineer who worked aboard diesel locomotives was exposed to asbestos and diesel fumes over 40 years of work. The engineer developed the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart conditions, and laryngeal cancer. (Shepard v. Grand Trunk W. R.R.)
$6,000,000 verdict – Plaintiff was a farmer diagnosed with laryngeal cancer who was exposed to pesticides by handling and mixing products on a daily basis over an 11-year period. (Matt Dietz Co. v. Torres)
$4,255,000 verdict – maintenance worker for the Illinois Central Railroad Company died from cancer caused by being exposed to carcinogens in his workplace. Judgment reduced to $3,335,685 to offset medical expenses already paid by the defendant. (Russell v. Ill. Cent. R.R.)
$3,732,000 verdict – 61-year-old trackman for Port Authority Trans-Hudson Corporation was exposed to asbestos insulation in the tunnels in which he worked. He was also exposed to diesel fuel and fumes, dust, steel particles, and other dangerous substances, and was diagnosed with laryngeal cancer. Judgment was reduced to $2,377,500 for the plaintiff’s history of smoking. (Kapsis v. Port Authority of New York and New Jersey)
$3,625,000 verdict – Plaintiff worked as a laborer for Hebert Brothers Engineers, Inc. in the cell service unit of the chlorine plant and handled asbestos on a daily basis. After 31 years of work, the plaintiff was diagnosed with laryngeal cancer and later, lung cancer. (Watts v. Georgia-Pacific Corp.)
Hughes Law Offices is providing case histories to inform visitors about actual case fact patterns and rulings. Unless specifically noted, the cases summarized herein were not handled by attorneys at Hughes Law Offices.