The primary difference between mesothelioma and asbestosis is that mesothelioma is a cancerous condition while asbestosis is not
As a result, the treatment options vary greatly for these conditions. The treatment for asbestosis is less aggressive and focuses on symptomatic relief and slowing down disease progression. Unlike mesothelioma, patients with asbestosis have a better prognosis and life expectancy. While patients with mesothelioma are given a prognosis of 4-12 months, asbestosis patients often live for decades with the disease. However, asbestosis needs careful medical management as these patients are more likely to develop mesothelioma in the future.
Apart from the fact that asbestosis is not as aggressive as mesothelioma, there is a great difference in the way both these conditions develop. The lodgment of asbestos fibers in the alveoli and subsequent scarring leads to asbestosis whereas mesothelioma develops if asbestos fibers get lodged in the lining of the lungs.
A symptom that specifically indicates asbestosis is clubbing of the fingers and nails, which is a sign of lack of oxygen in the blood due to underlying scarring of lung tissues. Patients with mesothelioma rarely develop clubbing of fingers.
The way smoking affects these diseases is another major difference. Studies have not established a correlation between smoking and mesothelioma whereas smoking is known to have a clear impact on the development of asbestosis.