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Significant exposure to asbestos can cause many diseases, including these two types of cancer: lung cancer and pleural mesothelioma. These cancers have a number of similarities, but they differ in physical characteristics and risk factors.
- Long period to develop after exposure. Each disease can take decades to develop yet only months to spread to distant organs.
- Overlapping symptoms. They affect the lungs and chest by causing pain and reducing lung function. They both cause chest pain, coughing, fatigue, difficulty breathing and weight loss. When these symptoms occur with a history of asbestos exposure and/or a history of smoking, doctors should immediately suspect lung cancer or mesothelioma.
- Similar diagnostic procedures and treatment techniques. Even if there is no cure for most cases of mesothelioma or lung cancer, there are treatment procedures and alleviation methods.
- Different location. Lung cancer develops in the lung itself, while mesothelioma usually develops in the lining of the lung. Mesothelioma can also develop in the lining of the abdomen, heart or testicles.
- Different types of growth. Mesothelioma starts as tiny tumor nodules that scatter the mesothelial lining, and eventually grow together to form a sheath-like tumor around the organ. Lung cancer tends to grow in individual masses with defined boundaries.
- Different causes. While the majority of lung cancer cases are attributed to tobacco use and environmental exposures to radon gas and second-hand smoke, mesothelioma is almost exclusively the result of asbestos exposure. And while smoking does not influence the risk of mesothelioma, it greatly increases an individual's risk of developing lung cancer. The highest risk of lung cancer occurs in smokers with a history of asbestos exposure. By themselves, each risk factor damages lung tissue and makes it more susceptible to diseases. When smoking and asbestos are combined, an individual's lung cancer risk increases significantly.
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.