Mesothelioma, sometimes referred to as asbestos lung cancer, is a rare cancer caused by asbestos exposure in which malignant (cancerous) cells are found in the mesothelium, a protective sac that covers most of the body’s internal organs. While mesothelioma can affect different organs, the vast majority of mesothelioma cases involve the lining around the lungs. This is why mesothelioma is sometimes called “asbestos lung cancer.”?  

Altogether, there are three different malignant mesothelioma types, and each is named after the part of the mesothelium it affects. First, mesothelioma that occurs in the abdominal tissue (peritoneum) is called peritoneal mesothelioma. Second, mesothelioma that affects the lining around the heart (pericardium) is called pericardial mesothelioma. Finally, mesothelioma that occurs in the tissue that surrounds the lung (pleura) is called pleural mesothelioma.

Pleural mesothelioma accounts for at least 70% of all asbestos-caused cancer, but some experts estimate the number to be much higher. Although reported incidence rates have increased in the past 20 years, pleural mesothelioma is still a relatively rare cancer. In the United States, about 1400 new pleural mesothelioma cases are diagnosed each year.

Difference between Mesothelioma & Lung Cancer

Pleural mesothelioma and lung cancer are often confused as the same disease, but they are both completely different illnesses. Although pleural mesothelioma and lung cancer are both serious diseases, they originate at different sites. In addition, pleural mesothelioma and lung cancer differ in treatability and potentially have different causes.

A key difference between lung cancer and pleural mesothelioma is that lung cancer originates in the lung tissue while pleural mesothelioma originates in the tissue surrounding the lungs. Another difference between the two is that smoking is a leading cause of lung cancer whereas no direct link has been established between smoking and pleural mesothelioma. In fact, the only known cause of pleural mesothelioma is asbestos exposure.  

Pleural mesothelioma and lung cancer also differ in their treatability. First, pleural mesothelioma is characterized by numerous interlocked tumors that spread so that the boundaries between cancerous tissue and health tissue are blurry. This makes pleural mesothelioma extremely difficult to treat and is the reason why most pleural mesothelioma cases result in death. On the other hand, lung cancer is characterized by individual tumors with clear boundaries, making lung cancer much easier to treat.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with asbestos-caused lung cancer, such as pleural mesothelioma, you may be entitled to compensation for you expenses. Please contact a lawyer today.

Published November 17, 2011 by