Although pleural mesothelioma impacts your lungs, it is not a type of lung cancer. In fact, it’s quite different in many ways that affect diagnosis, treatments, and outcomes. When dealing with a mesothelioma diagnosis, understanding your illness, causes, and options is the first step in preparing for the journey ahead.
Let’s start with looking at the 5 differences between mesothelioma and lung cancer
Tumors in both pleural mesothelioma and lung cancer develop close to each other in the body yet are still vastly different. The pleura is the lining of the lungs and is outside of the breathing organs. It is in this lining that tumors develop in pleural mesothelioma.
The pleura is a membrane that forms a fluid-filled sac attached to the wall of the chest that surrounds the lungs. That is where tumors develop in pleuralmesothelioma. With lung cancer, the tumors are inside the tissue of the lung itself. The simple difference is inside versus outside the lung.
Lung cancer is relatively common. Hundreds of thousands of Americans are diagnosed with some form of lung cancer each year. In contrast, pleural mesothelioma is very rare. Just a few thousand cases are diagnosed each year in the US.
For years, mesothelioma cases were on the decline because of enhanced worker safety, but are now anticipated to rise through the next decade.
Lung cancer has double the five-year survivability rate, on average, compared to pleural mesothelioma. The key to treatment of any cancer is diagnosis at an early stage. Because mesothelioma is often not detected until late stages, it limits treatment options and significantly hampers outcomes.
Mesothelioma may not present any symptoms for years and has a latency period that can last 20, 30, or 40 years after exposure to asbestos before noticeable issues manifest. Complicating matters is that pleural mesothelioma symptoms may mimic other less harmful illnesses which can delay diagnosis.
The physical structure of pleural mesothelioma versus lung cancer tumors makes treatment more challenging. With most cancers, surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation are the standard treatments and how they are used depends on staging, overall health, and other factors.
With lung cancer, the tumors are usually clumped and defined masses that are easy to target with surgery and radiation. Pleural mesothelioma tumors, though, are often thin and spread out among healthy tissue which makes them difficult to extricate or target.
Pleural mesothelioma is caused by asbestos exposure in most cases. While other factors may cause mesothelioma, it’s rare from a statistical standpoint. Studies show overwhelmingly that mesothelioma is caused by asbestos, even if you didn’t know you’d been exposed.
In contrast, lung cancer is usually linked to smoking. Lung cancer cases in those that never smoked may be tied to a genetic predisposition to certain cancers. Finally, asbestos can cause lung cancer. Those that were exposed to asbestos and smoked are more likely to develop the disease.
Get help today
If you or someone you love was diagnosed with mesothelioma, please contact Bergman Draper Oslund. We fight for mesothelioma victims every day. We have won significant settlements for our clients totaling more than $700 million for cancer victims sickened by asbestos exposure. Contact us to talk about your rights no matter where you live or were exposed to asbestos. Call (888) 647-6007 or click here for a free case evaluation.