You may have heard in the past that asbestos exposure can lead to lung cancer or cancers like mesothelioma. Lung cancer and mesothelioma are not the same thing, though, even though mesothelioma is sometimes referred to as a lung cancer.
There are a few differences between lung cancer and mesothelioma. The main difference is the pathology, or the way the cancers develop.
What to know about lung cancer
Looking at lung cancer, it develops within the lungs. It often forms in masses and has borderlines clear enough to see.
What to know about mesothelioma
Unlike lung cancer, mesothelioma forms in the pleural lining of the lungs. It often has a connected network of tumors rather than masses formed independently. Additionally, it may not be easy to see the boundaries.
There are some similarities between lung cancer and mesothelioma: they’re both cancers, they both are staged in stages I, II and III, and they both have a potential to spread to the lymph nodes. The biggest differences in staging happen at stage IV, in which mesothelioma will continue to move to local tissues (and possibly bones). Lung cancer is more progressive than this and may spread throughout the entire body.
The causes of cancer can be similar, but asbestos is more likely to cause mesothelioma than typical lung cancer. Mesothelioma is normally caused by asbestos, while lung cancer tends to be caused by other factors, like smoking or exposure to radon.
Though these two cancers are different, they do present with similar symptoms. Common symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
- Weight changes
An accurate diagnosis is very important, because the treatment options will differ for each condition.
If you have developed mesothelioma, get the help you need
If you get diagnosed with mesothelioma, you have the right to look into making a claim against the parties who exposed you. If you were exposed at work, your employer may be responsible for covering the cost of your care and other financial losses. This is a difficult condition to live with, but you deserve an opportunity to focus on your health and get support while you do so.