Despite sharing similar symptoms, asbestos-related lung cancer and mesothelioma are two separate conditions. Patients diagnosed with lung cancer have cancer in the actual tissue of the lung. Mesothelioma is a cancerous disease that forms in the lining, or mesothelial, of organs. Pleural mesothelioma, the most common type, develops in the pleura, the thin membrane that lines the lungs. Symptoms experienced with either condition typically consist of shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, fatigue, weight loss, and chest pain. Once diagnosed, it is crucial to understand the differences between the two and the legal options available with a mesothelioma lawyer.
Causes – Exposure to asbestos is the one and only cause of mesothelioma. Asbestos can also be the cause of lung cancer if it has become lodged in the lung. Despite heavy regulations on consumption and use of asbestos, approximately 3,000 people each year are diagnosed with mesothelioma and between 3,400 and 8,500 new lung cancers can be attributed to asbestos exposure in the United States alone.
Site of origin – When asbestos is inhaled and trapped in the lining of the lung it is referred to as pleural mesothelioma. If asbestos has become lodged in the lung tissue, it will cause lung cancer. Again, the difference between the two conditions is the location—lining of organ vs. organ tissue.
Physical characteristics – Lung cancer is characterized by distinct masses with defined borders. Mesothelioma appears as an interconnected network of tumor nodules without clear boundaries.
Latency period – The latency period between asbestos exposure and the development of asbestos related lung cancer or mesothelioma may be two, three, four, or even more decades. Very often, asbestos-related cancer victims also suffer from asbestosis, a scarring of the lung tissue caused by asbestos exposure.
Treatment plan – The treatment options for both often include surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, but the plans for treatment vary. The stage of diagnosis, location of cancer and type of cancer will determine the treatment plan. Even though there are similarities between these two cancers, the treatment plans to extend survival is different for each.
It is important for patients who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer caused by asbestos exposure to contact an asbestos injury attorney Development of either condition may entitle the patient to compensation for the economic and non-economic consequences of exposure.