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Lung Cancer vs. Mesothelioma

By Treven Pyles

Posted on June 19th, 2017

Lung Cancer Vs Mesothelioma

Overlapping symptoms make it difficult to correctly identify the type of cancer that affects a victim. Both diseases commonly cause chest pain and coughing, difficulty breathing, fatigue and involuntary weight loss.

Lung cancer and mesothelioma, while both cancerous, are entirely different diseases. Although they carry some similarities in symptoms, mesothelioma and lung cancer differ in physical characteristics, they develop and spread differently and require entirely different treatment approaches.

Study after study continued to show the cause-effect relationship of asbestos and the two forms of cancer. In 1986, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration proclaimed lung cancer as the greatest risk for individuals who work with asbestos. The most deadly asbestos-related disease, mesothelioma, is the most prevalent form of cancer associated with asbestos exposure. The International Agency for Research on Cancer recently stated that the scientific evidence has strengthened over time and now there are sufficient proofs asbestos is carcinogenic to humans, regardless of the fiber type, size or amount inhaled.

Facts You Should Know About Lung Cancer and Mesothelioma

Occupational asbestos exposure causes two major types of cancer: mesothelioma and lung cancer. Both affect the lungs and the chest by reducing lung function and causing pain and discomfort. Each can take decades to develop, but only months to spread to distant organs. Considering that both diseases have similar symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, fatigue, and weight loss, additional medical investigations and getting a second opinion on mesothelioma vs. lung cancer diagnosis, can dramatically impact patient survival.

Mesothelioma is almost exclusively the result of extended exposure to asbestos. Once inhaled or ingested, asbestos fibers trapped in the organ tissue, trigger genetic damage, scarring and inflammation that can lead to mesothelioma or lung cancer. Contrary to popular belief, mesothelioma is not the same as lung cancer. This cancer develops on the outer lining of the lungs, but it can also affect the lining of the abdomen and the lining of the heart. On the other hand, lung cancer develops within the lungs themselves.

Unlike mesothelioma which has only one known cause - asbestos, lung cancer has multiple possible causes. Tobacco smoking is not the only cause of this awful disease. According to LUNGevity, up to 15% of individuals diagnosed with lung cancer have never smoked a cigarette. Exposure to carcinogenic agents such as radon gas and asbestos is mostly responsible for this portion of lung cancer cases. In conjunction with smoking, this factor is substantially more likely to give way to lung cancer than by itself. People who have a history of asbestos exposure and were or are also smokers are 50 to 90 times more susceptible to lung cancer than non-smokers with asbestos fibers in their bodies.

Mesothelioma vs. Lung Cancer

More key facts and figures about lung cancer vs. mesothelioma:

  • Lung cancer due to asbestos exposure results in 4,800 deaths per year
  • About 45,000 number of deaths due to mesothelioma from 1999 to 2016 in the U.S.
  • Tobacco use is considered to determine 80% of all lung cancer deaths.
  • About 12% of lung cancer deaths are radon-related.
  • Lung cancer appears around 10 - 30 years after first exposure to a carcinogen like asbestos or cigarette smoke.
  • Lung cancer develops in the lung itself.
  • Asbestos exposure causes 80% of mesothelioma cases.
  • Mesothelioma takes around 20 - 50 years to develop after the initial exposure to asbestos fibers.
  • Mesothelioma usually develops in the lining of the lung.
  • Mesothelioma also develops in the lining of the heart, abdomen, and testicles.
  • Lung cancer had a tendency to grow in individual masses which have defined boundaries.
  • Mesothelioma first presents tiny tumor nodules that are scattered in the mesothelial lining, and will eventually grow together forming a sheath-like mass.
  • Mesothelioma is solely the result of asbestos exposure.
  • The majority of lung cancer cases are attributed to smoking and second-hand smoke and environmental exposures to radon gas.
  • Smoking does not influence the risk of mesothelioma.
  • Smoking greatly increases the risk of developing lung cancer.
  • When smoking and asbestos are combined, the risk of developing lung cancer increases at least 50 times.

There are several types of mesothelioma, each with its own symptoms. Symptoms of pleural mesothelioma include difficulty swallowing, effusions (fluid), general fatigue, persistent chest pain, persistent dry cough, shortness of breath and weight loss. Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma include abdominal pain, ascites (fluid), bowel irregularity, general fatigue, nausea/vomiting, seizures and weight loss. Symptoms of pericardial mesothelioma include chest pain, difficulty breathing, fever, general fatigue, heart murmurs, irregular heartbeat and weight loss.

Compensation for Lung Cancer and Pleural Mesothelioma from Asbestos Exposure

Many people get diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer because of being victims of exposure to asbestos. If you or a loved one has been affected by asbestos, you may be eligible for compensation. In order to pursue full and fair compensation, you need an experienced asbestos attorney to guide you and represent you through the legal process. Attorneys at Environmental Litigation Group, P.C. have handled over 133,000 asbestos exposure claims throughout the U.S. being widely recognized for their diligent and successful representations.

For a free case evaluation, please call our law offices directly at 205.328.9200. An experienced asbestos attorney will be available to discuss your specific case.