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The differences between lung cancer and mesothelioma

Both lung cancer and mesothelioma are pulmonary diseases caused by asbestos exposure.

However, they are very different, which is a very important aspect not only for treatment but also for the compensation you will obtain after claim submission.

While mesothelioma is exclusively the result of asbestos exposure, lung cancer can have multiple causes, the primary being smoking. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States, being responsible for 23% of all cancer deaths. Every year, approximately 3,000 cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed throughout the country, which makes it a very rare cancer. On the other hand, there are over 235,000 cases of lung cancer annually in the United States.

Nevertheless, only 4,800 are the result of asbestos exposure. Tobacco smoking increases the risk of developing lung cancer in people with a history of asbestos exposure by 50% to 80%. In contrast, the risk of developing mesothelioma if you were exposed to asbestos is not influenced by using tobacco. Another essential difference between the two malignant diseases is that, while lung cancer develops inside the lungs, mesothelioma grows on the outer lining of the lungs, which is medically known as the pleura.

What other differences are there between lung cancer and mesothelioma?

In addition to the main differences highlighted above, there are many other between lung cancer that develop as a consequence of asbestos exposure and mesothelioma, such as:

  • A major difference between lung cancer and mesothelioma is that the former typically takes between 10 and 30 years to develop, while the latter grows within 20 to 50 years from the first asbestos exposure. Thereby, although both diseases have a long latency period, lung cancer usually occurs within a shorter period of time than mesothelioma.
  • It is noteworthy that mesothelioma does not only affect the outer lining of the lungs, as it can also develop on the outer lining of the heart, the abdomen, and the testicles. However, mesothelioma that develops on the lungs, medically known as pleural mesothelioma, accounts for nearly 80% of cases.
  • The way in which these 2 cancers grow is another distinctive characteristic. While lung cancer tends to develop in individual masses, also known as nodules, with defined boundaries, mesothelioma grows as small tumor nodules that are spread throughout the pleura and that eventually attach themselves to one another to form a sheath-like tumor around the organ.
  • Lung cancer often metastasizes early to adjacent organs, whereas mesothelioma is usually more aggressive and remains within the chest cavity. Diagnosing either of the diseases requires a biopsy, a medical procedure during which a surgeon collects a small sample of tissue from the potentially malignant tumor to subsequently have it examined by a pathologist in a laboratory.
  • Mesothelioma is often accompanied by pleural thickening or pleural effusion, while lung cancer is most of the time not. Pleural thickening is the extensive scarring of the lining of the chest cavity, whereas pleural effusion involves the accumulation of fluid in the chest cavity.
  • The treatment of lung cancer and mesothelioma is also different. For lung cancer, you will have to have a portion of the affected lung surgically removed, whereas for mesothelioma, you may have to have the pleura removed, sometimes along with the damaged portion of the lung or, in severe cases, the entire lung, if mesothelioma has spread throughout all of it. The prognosis for lung cancer and mesothelioma is nearly similar.

How does my diagnosis influence the compensation I will receive for asbestos exposure?

Firstly, having a correct diagnosis is crucial for receiving the right treatment, as the treatment of lung cancer is significantly different than that of mesothelioma. Because both cancers are very serious, it is essential to have the correct diagnosis so as to keep them under control and prevent them from advancing. When it comes to compensation, it is important to know that asbestos trust funds, the asbestos companies that are still in business, and the VA will place great emphasis on your diagnosis. Accordingly, asbestos victims with mesothelioma will receive a larger sum of money for their diagnosis, as their disease is more severe than lung cancer.

People who came to struggle with mesothelioma will usually receive between $1 million and $2.4 million, whereas victims of asbestos exposure with lung cancer will be offered $100,000 to $700,000, depending on the severity of their diagnosis. Because people injured by asbestos exposure are often misdiagnosed upon their first medical appointment, we strongly encourage you to seek a second and even a third opinion from different medical specialists in order to make sure you have the right diagnosis. The reason why misdiagnosis is so common among victims of asbestos exposure is that the symptoms of diseases such as lung cancer and mesothelioma are usually very similar, which makes assigning a correct diagnosis very challenging. The following are the symptoms that lung cancer and mesothelioma have in common:

      • chest pain
      • shortness of breath
      • fatigue
      • a high temperature
      • night sweats
      • loss of appetite
      • clubbed nails
      • a persistent cough
      • difficulty breathing

It is very important to keep in mind that both cancers are usually deadly, particularly if they are found in late stages, which is typically the case of mesothelioma. For this reason, if you have a history of asbestos exposure, we advise you to keep a close eye on your health and seek medical attention as soon as you notice bothersome symptoms. Another way in which you can prevent finding out about a potential lung disease too late is by periodically undergoing screenings. Finding a medical professional who has vast experience in diagnosing and treating diseases that stem from asbestos exposure is essential, as they will be able to assign you the correct diagnosis and, subsequently, to prescribe you the most effective treatment.

File a claim for lung cancer or mesothelioma with the assistance of Atraxia Law

For the past 35 years, the team of professionals at Atraxia Law has been providing quality assistance to victims of asbestos exposure and is here to help you determine whether you are eligible for filing a claim for asbestos exposure. If you were exposed to asbestos on the job, in the military, secondarily, or have a deceased family member who was, contact our experts and provide your employment or military records and your medical records.