Mesothelioma, Lung Cancer and Cigarette Smoking
Many people confuse mesothelioma with lung cancer and believe cigarette smoking and tobacco use causes both. Lung cancer and mesothelioma have several characteristics in common. However, there are significant differences between the two diseases.
Characteristics of Mesothelioma and Lung Cancer
Lung Cancer is an abnormal growth of cancer cells in one or both lungs. When abnormal cells begin to divide and multiply, a variety of symptoms can appear.
Symptoms of lung cancer include severe cough, shortness of breath, chest pain and decreased oxygen.
Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC)
Roughly 85 percent of lung cancer cases are non-small cell lung cancer.Three types of NSCLC are adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and large cell carcinoma. These subtypes are grouped as NSCLC because their treatment and prognoses are often similar.
Adenocarcinoma- Adenocarcinomas start in the cells that would naturally secrete substances such as mucus. It is usually found in the outer parts of the lung and is more likely to be found before it has spread.
Squamous cell carcinoma- Squamous cell carcinomas begin inside of squamous cells, which are flat cells that line the inside of the lung’s airways. This type is often linked to a history of smoking and tends to be found in the lung’s central part, near a primary airway.
Large cell carcinoma- Large cell carcinoma can appear anywhere in the lung. This type tends to grow and spread quickly, which can make it harder to treat.
Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC)
Roughly 10 -15 percent of all lung cancers are SCLC. SCLC tends to grow and spread faster than NSCLC.
Mesothelioma is rare and is a type of cancer that is a primary tumor that invades the tissue that lines organs in the body, such as the lungs, the abdomen, and the heart. It is aggressive and spreads rapidly. Symptoms of Mesothelioma vary by type.
Pleural Mesothelioma is a tumor that begins in the respiratory system by attacking the pleura, the lining surrounding the lungs. Symptoms include chest pain, coughing, difficulty swallowing, fatigue, muscle weakness, night sweats, fever, shortness of breath, weight loss, and wheezing.
Peritoneal Mesothelioma is a tumor that begins in the digestive system by attacking the peritoneum, the lining of the abdomen’s organs. Symptoms include abdominal pain, fluid buildup, loss of appetite, weight loss, fatigue, bowel obstructions, indigestion, and hernias.
Pericardial Mesothelioma is a tumor that begins in the cardio system by attacking the pericardium, the lining of the tissue around the heart. Symptoms include trouble breathing, chest pain, fatigue, fever, and heart murmurs.
Testicular Mesothelioma is extremely rare and begins as a lump under the skin of one or both testicles. Symptoms include fluid buildup in the scrotum, fever, pain in the testicles.
Mesothelioma has a long latency period of between 20 to 50 years. Mesothelioma is difficult to diagnose because it mimics so many other illnesses. As a result, by the time mesothelioma is diagnosed, the tumor is malignant and has usually spread to other areas of the body.
Causes of Mesothelioma and Lung Cancer
While cigarette smoking is a contributing factor to a lung cancer diagnosis, other causes may secondhand smoke, asbestos exposure, radon exposure, air pollution, and even family history.
The only known cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos. The asbestos exposure may be direct, such as from employment exposure to asbestos-containing materials, or indirect, such as exposure to asbestos from washing the clothes of a spouse who worked near asbestos-containing materials. Asbestos exposure may occur via inhalation (breathing in asbestos) or ingestion (swallowing asbestos fibers). Victims typically do not realize they are being exposed.
At GPW, we are one of the largest firms in western Pennsylvania protecting the rights of injured people. As a pioneer in asbestos litigation, Goldberg Persky, & White has been protecting those exposed to asbestos, suffering from lung cancer and mesothelioma, for more than three decades. Contact us today at 412-471-3980 or fill our web form for a free case review.
“What is Lung Cancer?”, American Cancer Society, (2019, October) [link]
Nielsen, L.S., Baelum, J., Rasmussen, J., Dahl, S., Olsen, K.E., Albin, M., Hansen, N.C., and Sherson, D., “Occupational Asbestos Exposure and Lung Cancer–A Systematic Review of the Literature.” (2014) [link]
“Signs and Symptoms of Mesothelioma”, American Cancer Society. [link]