The Similarities And Differences Of Lung Cancer And Mesothelioma

At first glance, lung cancer and mesothelioma may seem highly similar, and in some respects they are. However, they are different diseases, with different causes, prognoses, and progressions. Both, though, are serious health concerns and warrant medical treatment as soon as they are spotted. But even this can be difficult, as both present with relatively mild symptoms at first, and may take years to develop to the point that they are detectable. By the time a doctor is able to diagnose a patient with one or the other, the patient will likely face an uphill battle.


Both diseases normally present with minor symptoms at first, including coughing and fatigue. Chest pain, labored breathing, and weight loss are also common symptoms, but can point to either disease. Anyone suffering from these symptoms should seek medical advice immediately if they have a history of smoking or exposure to asbestos. Doctors will use identical diagnostic measures to detect either disease as well. This process normally consists of a series of x-rays and bronchoscopies, a procedure during which the doctor will insert a tube down the throat of the patient. If there are any abnormalities present, the tube will detect them. These abnormalities are then biopsied to confirm the presence of the disease.

A final similarity is how the diseases are treated. Both are best managed with a combination of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, though which treatment offers the greatest efficacy will depend on the disease’s stage and location.

There are significant differences between lung cancer and mesothelioma, however, and these differences will be significant during any legal proceedings. The most important distinction between the two is how they are caused. There are many risk factors that can determine whether or not a person develops lung cancer, such as genetics or smoking. Mesothelioma, though, is always linked to asbestos exposure. There has never been an instance of the disease where asbestos wasn’t implicated to some extent, and this is why asbestos injury cases are so common. When someone is exposed to asbestos, either while on the job or otherwise, there are parties responsible for negligence. This usually includes the asbestos product manufacturer, along with employers and contractors.

And while the short-term prognosis for both lung cancer and mesothelioma is similar, with about 40 percent of patients surviving a year, the latter is particularly deadly in the long-term, with only about four percent of patients living for 10 years. This has to do with how both diseases develop. Normally, tumors develop individually and have clearly defined boundaries, which can make surgical removal a possibility if caught early. Tumors that develop through asbestos exposure, though, form as a series of nodules that eventually bind together around the organ.

Both diseases are life changing, and will require a patient to fight a tough battle, but those affected by asbestos-related tumors have legal options that can help them manage their recovery.