Mesothelioma and Cancer: Are They One and the Same?

July 28, 2018
Mesothelioma and Cancer: Are They One and the Same?

Many people have probably heard the term “mesothelioma” at least once in their lives. Despite this, the disease is relatively uncommon and not well-known by the general public. Patients who have been diagnosed with the disease (along with their friends and family) have a vested interest in understanding it, though.

Are Cancer and Mesothelioma Two Different Things?

The short answer to this question is, “No.” Mesothelioma is, indeed, a type of cancer, but it may not be the type most people think it is. Because symptoms of mesothelioma often deal with the lungs, many people believe that it is a type of lung cancer. This isn’t technically true.

Mesothelioma develops not in the organs themselves but in the lining of the organs. This lining is, appropriately, called the mesothelium. The most common place for mesothelioma to strike is in the lining of the lungs (or, the pleura), which is where the lung cancer misconception comes from.

Of course, mesothelioma and lung cancer aren’t entirely unrelated. The primary cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos in some form. Asbestos can also cause lung cancer in some patients if it embedded in the actual lung tissue and not the pleural lining. Still, it’s important to recognize that mesothelioma and lung cancer are two completely different types of cancer, even if they were caused by the same toxic agent.

Symptoms of the two diseases are often very similar, however. In fact, late-stage lung cancer and mesothelioma patients often experience:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Chest pain
  • Weight loss

Treatment options are also similar with the two forms of cancer. Whether the disease is lung cancer of mesothelioma, the treatment options will likely consist of:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Surgery

Despite this, photodynamic therapy is more often prescribed for lung cancer patients than for mesothelioma patients.

Different Forms of Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma really differentiates itself from lung cancer (or any other form of cancer) in that it can crop up in seemingly unusual places. Again, mesothelioma is a cancer of the lining of different organs. The different types include:

  • Pleural – develops in the lining of the lungs and accounts for 90% of all mesothelioma cases
  • Peritoneal – develops in the lining of the abdominal cavity and accounts for about 8 to 9% of all mesothelioma cases
  • Pericardial – develops in the lining of the heart and accounts for about 1% of all mesothelioma cases
  • Testicular – develops in the testicular lining and is extremely rare, accounting for less than 1% of all
    mesothelioma cases

Mesothelioma is very unlike other types of cancer, but that doesn’t mean its lethal effects are any different. In fact, a “great” prognosis after being diagnosed with the disease is likely only two years, and many don’t get that much. Seeking both medical and legal help is important if you or someone you know has been diagnosed with mesothelioma.

Treatment is of the utmost importance, but legal action can also offer a sense of justice and closure to a situation caused by the negligent use of asbestos. If you or a family member has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, call or email us for a free consultation.