When the exposure to the asbestos is very high it can lead to lung cancer and laryngeal cancer. Mesothelioma, which is a locally invasive tumor of the lung pleura, is one of the late complication of the disease.
If the affected individual is a smoker the effects are twice as severe. This is because smoking and asbestos exposure have a synergistic effect. Other complications include blue color on lips and fingers (cyanosis), pulmonary hypertension, and failure of the right side of the heart (cor pulmonale).
The medical significance of asbestosis is primarily due to its association with certain cancers. With increasing involvement of the lung tissues, cardiopulmonary failure can also result.