What’s the difference between lung cancer and mesothelioma?

On Behalf of | Jan 31, 2023 | mesothelioma

When talking about the health consequences of asbestos exposure, mesothelioma and lung cancer are what often come to mind.

It can feel like the two terms are used interchangeably as they do bear many similarities when it comes to symptoms experienced. They are, however, two different conditions that occur in the body and it’s important to recognize how they materialize.

Understanding the differences

Below are some of the differences between lung cancer and mesothelioma to be aware of.

  • Location – lung cancer develops inside the lung whereas mesothelioma presents itself on the lining of the lung. It can also be found in the lining of the heart and abdomen.
  • Growth rate – lung cancer can advance very quickly and spread to other organs whereas mesothelioma grows at a much slower rate and tends to stay in the same location. Mesothelioma begins as small nodules attached to the lung lining which clump together to create a tumor whereas lung cancer nodules are much bigger and individual.
  • Primary cause – mesothelioma is primarily caused by asbestos exposure. Lung cancer, on the other hand, is usually caused by smoking or inhaling second-hand smoke. Combining smoking with asbestos exposure dramatically increases the risk of a lung cancer diagnosis.
  • Latency period – it can take anywhere in the region of 20 to 60 years after exposure to asbestos before a person starts to experience the symptoms of mesothelioma. This is often what makes it so difficult to diagnose. For lung cancer sufferers, symptoms may not be felt for at least 10 years and upwards of 30.
  • Life expectancy – while this will often depend on many factors including overall health, age and lifestyle, the life expectancy for lung cancer patients is higher than for mesothelioma. This is, in part, contributed to by the fact that lung cancer is much more common and there are a lot more treatment options available.

A mesothelioma diagnosis as the result of asbestos exposure is frightening and feels devastating. Payment of compensation can offer you financial assistance while you seek treatment.