If you have symptoms that could indicate a serious lung problem – chest pain, chronic cough, shortness of breath, lumps, or unexplained weight loss – you may have wondered if it could be mesothelioma or lung cancer. What’s the difference?
They’re both very serious and they can both be caused by exposure to asbestos. However, lung cancer and mesothelioma develop differently.
Typically, lung cancer appears inside the lungs themselves. The cancer often presents itself as distinct masses with clear borders.
Mesothelioma, when it affects the lungs, develops in what is called the “pleural lining” of the lungs, rather than the lungs themselves. It often presents itself as an interconnected network of tumors without clear boundaries. There are often a large number of tumors in a large network.
Stages 1-3 of the two diseases are approximately the same, with the tumors starting out localized and then advancing to nearby lymph nodes. At stage 4, mesothelioma tends to progress in local tissues and occasionally spreads to the other lung or to the bones. At stage 4, lung cancer typically both progresses and spreads to other parts of the body.
They present differently in tissue biopsies, as well. In a biopsy, mesothelioma appears similar to an adenocarcinoma, while lung cancer looks quite different. And, lung cancer can be found after a sputum (phlegm) test, while mesothelioma cannot.
What can I expect from a mesothelioma or asbestos-lung cancer diagnosis?
The unfortunate reality is that people with the symptoms of these diseases often don’t notice the symptoms until the disease is significantly progressed. Mesothelioma, in particular, has a long latency period where people often feel no symptoms.
Although the two diseases come with similar symptoms and are both treated with surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, an accurate diagnosis will help your doctor get you the most appropriate intervention.
Here in Minnesota, many people have been exposed to asbestos at work or through products they used at home. In many cases, the manufacturers of the products and the workplaces where they were used can be held legally responsible for the illnesses and injuries this exposure caused. This is often because the companies involved knew of the dangers for a long time before warning their employees and customers.
In some cases, asbestos trusts have been set up so that people suffering from these diseases can get compensation from the responsible companies. In others, people with these diseases may have to file lawsuits in order to obtain compensation.
Sieben Polk P.A. has been helping people in Minnesota and the Upper Midwest seek compensation in asbestos disease cases for decades. We have taken on many of these responsible companies before and are dedicated to helping people obtain fair compensation.