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How is pleural mesothelioma different from lung cancer?

Despite both entailing similar symptoms (chest pain, persistent cough, and difficulty breathing) and having prolonged or frequent exposure to asbestos as a risk factor, pleural mesothelioma is very different from lung cancer. A first notable distinction between the two types of cancer refers to their prevalence: while pleural mesothelioma accounts for less than 0.3% of all diagnosed forms of cancer, lung cancer is considerably more prevalent, being the second most common form of cancer worldwide and affecting over 200,000 people annually in the USA.

The causes of pleural mesothelioma and lung cancer are also different, although both diseases can occur due to repeated or prolonged exposure to asbestos. Nevertheless, asbestos exposure is responsible for less than 10% of all diagnosed cases of lung cancer, as opposed to pleural mesothelioma, which is mainly caused by exposure to asbestos with a percentage of 80. Moreover, tobacco use has not been demonstrated to represent a risk factor for pleural mesothelioma.

Both lung cancer and pleural mesothelioma occur in the lungs, but the regions affected are slightly different as well. Thus, the first type of cancer develops inside of the lung, whereas the latter grows on the surface of its outer lining.

Another distinction between the two diseases is related to their latency period. While the latency period is shorter in the case of lung cancer (between 10 and 30 years of the tobacco or asbestos exposure), pleural mesothelioma requires a significantly longer period of time to develop, being able to occur even after 50 years of first asbestos exposure.

Finally, there are differences regarding the structure and disposition of the cancerous tumors as well. Whereas lung cancer typically develops in the form of well-defined individual tumors with clear boundaries, the malignant growths occurring in pleural mesothelioma are smaller and tend to be scattered on the surface of the lung lining.

We wanted a resource where people who are looking for better help can find it, because one of the issues that I have found is that the diagnosis takes a little bit, some people don’t know if they are diagnosed or not. This is something that it is important enough, that is why I wanted to put the information together.