While both asbestos-related lung cancers and malignant pleural mesothelioma are types of cancer that affect the lungs after inhaling asbestos fibers, mesothelioma is not considered lung cancer. The difference between these diseases is that they affect different types of tissue. Mesothelioma is not considered lung cancer because it does not directly affect lung tissue.
While mesothelioma is not considered lung cancer, it is similar to asbestos-related lung cancer since both affect a person’s ability to breathe, grow in the chest, and affect lung functioning. However, mesothelioma occurs in the mesothelium, the lining outside the lungs. Lung cancer, on the other hand, occurs in lung tissue and grows within the lung itself.
Differences and Similarities Between Mesothelioma and Asbestos-Related Lung Cancers
The mesothelium is a layer of tissue that covers and protects your internal organs. It produces a lubricating fluid that reduces friction between the organs in your chest, such as the lungs and heart.
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that occurs because of abnormal cells developing in the mesothelium. Inhaled asbestos fibers can embed deep into lung tissue, deep enough to make their way through to the mesothelium and cause damage.
While mesothelioma is not considered lung cancer, and asbestos-related lung cancers affect different types of tissue, they can cause similar symptoms. Both conditions often show no signs until the cancer has already advanced past the early stages, and the localized growth spreads. Common symptoms can include:
- Labored breathing
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Extreme fatigue
- A persistent cough that will not go away
- Wet coughing that may or may not contain blood
- Unexplained weight loss
Treatment of either of these cancers may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and/or clinical trials. However, the drugs and approaches for each condition are different because of the way they grow. Lung cancer tumors are generally well-defined, while mesothelioma spreads in a thin layer over the affected tissue. This makes it more difficult to remove with surgery and harder to target with radiation.
There is also a dramatic difference in outcomes for these two conditions. Overall, lung and bronchus cancer had a 19.4% five-year survival rate between 2009 and 2015, according to the National Cancer Institute. While there are treatments for mesothelioma, curing this type of cancer is rare. Many people survive only one to two years following their diagnosis. The five-year survival rate for mesothelioma is about 10% overall.
Early Detection May Help Reduce the Rate of Asbestos-Related Deaths From Cancer
Because mesothelioma and asbestos-related lung cancers have many of the same risk factors and symptoms, annual screenings may be a good idea for those with occupational asbestos exposure. These conditions can be asymptomatic when localized, making it harder to detect until it has advanced to a later stage. Lung cancer is also much more common.
Undergoing medical imaging and noninvasive testing each year can be effective in getting an early diagnosis and improving the outcomes of many with asbestos-related cancers. However, these types of screenings are much more effective at identifying lung cancer than they are at identifying mesothelioma.
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A Mesothelioma or Asbestos-Related Lung Cancer Diagnosis May Qualify You For Compensation
If you had occupational exposure to asbestos or can prove that you were otherwise affected, you may be eligible to pursue a settlement or award based on your diagnosis. Workers who developed cancer as a result of asbestos exposure can join the mass tort to recover compensation to pay for their treatment and care, pain and suffering, and other losses.
Because of the volume of asbestos cancer cases reported almost 50 years ago, many of the companies that manufactured or used asbestos shut down. Beginning in the late 1980s, bankruptcy courts forced these manufacturers who filed for bankruptcy protection to create trusts that could continue to compensate their victims.
Depending on the circumstances of your condition, you may be eligible to file a claim or pursue a lawsuit to gain access to the money in one of these trusts.
Talk to an Asbestos Cancer Attorney About Your Case
Pintas & Mullins Law Firm can help you to navigate the claims process and take legal action in a case based on mesothelioma or another asbestos-related cancer. We also do not shy away from tough cases, including those based on a non-malignant diagnosis. We may be able to recover a settlement or award for your diagnosis of mesothelioma.
Your family should not have to pay for your treatment. The companies responsible for your exposure should pay, not you. You will also pay our team nothing up front. We take our fee from your settlement or award.
Call (800) 794-0444 today to get started with a free case review.