Mesothelioma is not the same as small cell lung cancer, but they may be confused with each other when they occur because of previous asbestos exposure. While the diseases are different—mesothelioma affects the lining of the lungs and small cell lung cancer affects the lung tissue itself—they occur in the same way and have the same amount of time to develop.
When a worker inhales asbestos fibers, the fibers make their way into the lungs. Over several decades, these fibers can cause mutations in the lining of the lungs (mesothelioma) or in the lung tissue itself (lung cancer). The risk for asbestos-related cancers is high for those in the automotive, military, shipbuilding and repair, construction, electricity and cable-setting, and boiler-related industries.
There Are Several Different Types of Asbestos-Related Cancer
When asbestos fibers are inhaled, they can travel into the lungs and become embedded in the tissue there. It does not matter whether they are in the thin lining of the lungs, the pleura, or the lung tissue itself, they can sit latent until they eventually cause mutations in the cells of the tissue around them.
Both types of asbestos-related cancer generally have a latency period of 20 to 40 years. This means those who suffered occupational exposure to asbestos may not develop symptoms of related cancer until after reaching retirement age.
Mesothelioma is a cancer of mesothelium tissue. This cancer generally occurs in the thin pleura that lines the lungs and chest cavity. However, mesothelioma can also develop in the lining of the abdomen, known as the peritoneum. This cancer is only caused by asbestos exposure. It very rarely occurs without identifiable exposure to these dangerous fibers. Those with this condition generally either worked with or around asbestos, or had a loved one who did.
Small Cell Lung Cancer
Small cell lung cancer, meanwhile, affects the lung tissue itself. It can occur because of smoking, pollution, asbestos exposure, or other causes. There are two types of small cell lung cancer: small cell carcinoma, also called oat cell cancer, and combined small cell carcinoma.
Asbestos exposure can also cause non-small cell lung cancer.
Treatment for Mesothelioma and Small Cell Lung Cancer Are Often Similar
While mesothelioma and small cell lung cancer are different conditions that affect different parts of the chest, they have many similarities when it comes to diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis. Both are often advanced before diagnosed, and asbestos cancer treatment may include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. When possible, surgery to remove the cancer may include:
- Wedge section (for lung cancer) or pleurectomy (for mesothelioma)
- Lobectomy, usually only useful for small cell lung cancer
- Pneumonectomy to remove the entire lung (for lung cancer), and potentially the complete removal of the pleura, and part of the diaphragm (for mesothelioma)
In both small cell lung cancer and mesothelioma, the long-term prognosis is not good. These treatments may extend the time the patient has and their quality of life, but they generally do not cure the cancer for most people. The National Cancer Institute recommends considering clinical trials for patients whose cancer is not discovered early enough for surgery to completely remove the tumors.
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You May Be Able to Recover an Award Based on Your Asbestos Cancer Diagnosis
If you developed mesothelioma, small cell lung cancer, or another asbestos-related cancer, you may be eligible to pursue an award to cover your medical care, pain and suffering, and other related losses. Many of the companies who manufactured asbestos products went out of business from older lawsuits related to this dangerous material, but an asbestos trust fund still provides payouts for those diagnosed more recently.
Recovering a monetary award based on your asbestos cancer diagnosis ensures your family does not suffer further damages because of your occupational exposure. The asbestos companies should pay for your treatment, cover your other expenses and losses, and compensate you for your suffering. Your family should not have to foot the bill for these expenses.
Talk to an Asbestos Cancer Attorney About Your Case Today
At Pintas & Mullins Law Firm, our team does not shy away from even the toughest cases. We will review your asbestos cancer case today and explain your options for pursuing an award. When you choose to work with our attorneys, you will pay nothing out of pocket. We will not accept a fee until (and unless) we recover a settlement on your behalf.
Call (800) 794-0444 now for your complimentary consultation with a member of our mesothelioma or other asbestos cancer legal team.