Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that can affect the lungs, but it is not lung cancer. There are differences between mesothelioma and lung cancer and it is important to understand them to ensure patients receive the correct treatment for their disease.
Pleural mesothelioma, the most common type of mesothelioma, attacks the lungs, hence the misconception that it is the same as lung cancer. However, the name pleural mesothelioma is so named because the cancer develops on the pleura, the protective lining of the lungs. Lung cancer tumors are usually inside the lungs.
Patients with pleural mesothelioma often have pleural thickening, which is heavy scarring in the lining of the chest cavity. They can also experience pleural effusion or a build up of fluid in the chest cavity. While most lung cancer patients do not show pleural thickening, it is relatively common for them to show pleural effusion, making correct diagnosis difficult.
Mesothelioma occurs far less often than lung cancer, which is the second most common type of cancer in the United States. Every year, there are roughly 222,500 new cases of lung cancer versus about 2,800 cases of all four types of mesothelioma.
The primary cause of mesothelioma is long term exposure to asbestos. Now banned from general usage, asbestos was once heavily used in everything from insulation to household products. Workers in construction, manufacturing, and ship building are at particularly high risk for asbestos exposure. Secondary exposure is also possible for people who work in an environment where asbestos materials were used and then disturbed in renovations.
Asbestos is so dangerous that no level of exposure is acceptably safe. When fine particles of asbestos dust are inhaled, they lodge in the lining of the lungs and settle there. Decades later, the disease appears. Mesothelioma can take up to 20 to 50 years to develop.
The primary cause of lung cancer is smoking. Typically, lung cancer symptoms appear between 10 and 30 years after a person starts smoking. There is no direct link between mesothelioma and tobacco use; however, smoking may complicate the treatment of mesothelioma. Heavy smokers often have a hard time with chemotherapy and cannot withstand surgery because of their reduced lung or heart function.
Because mesothelioma is less common than lung cancer, it is important that patients work with doctors experienced in mesothelioma treatment with access to the latest information. Certain patients may respond to aggressive treatment available only in special practices or clinics, even those whose mesothelioma is unresectable.
If you or someone you love was exposed to asbestos and suffers from mesothelioma, talk to the dedicated Delaware mesothelioma lawyers at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. for experienced counsel about your legal options. We handle all types of personal injury claims with a special focus on asbestos and mesothelioma cases. Call 302-656-5445 or complete our online form to schedule an appointment in one of our conveniently located offices. We proudly serve clients in Wilmington and Georgetown, Delaware, and throughout the state.