The Difference Between Mesothelioma and Asbestosis

The Difference Between Mesothelioma and Asbestosis

The Difference Between Mesothelioma and Asbestosis

Mesothelioma and asbestosis are two serious health conditions that both stem from asbestos exposure. One is a non-cancerous condition where lung tissue is scarred by asbestos exposure. The other, is a cancer of the lining of the lung, heart, or abdomen. Understanding the differences between mesothelioma and asbestosis helps shed light on these conditions and provides a clearer understanding of their nature and impact on individuals affected by asbestos-related diseases.

Asbestosis is a chronic lung disease caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos fibers. When asbestos particles are inhaled, they can become lodged in the lungs, leading to scarring and inflammation. Over time, this scarring can impair lung function, making breathing difficult. The key characteristics of asbestosis include breathlessness, persistent cough, chest tightness, and reduced lung capacity. While asbestosis is a serious condition, it is non-cancerous and typically progresses slowly. However, an asbestosis diagnosis increases the chance of developing lung cancer, mesothelioma, or other asbestos-related diseases.

Mesothelioma is an aggressive and rare form of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, abdomen, or heart. It is caused by asbestos exposure, although the disease may not manifest until many years or decades after exposure. Unlike asbestosis, mesothelioma is linked to cancerous cell growth. Symptoms of mesothelioma include chest pain, shortness of breath, persistent cough, weight loss, fatigue, and fluid accumulation in the affected area. Mesothelioma is a life-threatening disease, and its prognosis depends on numerous factors such as the stage of the cancer, the type of mesothelioma, and the patient’s overall health. Treatment options may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and targeted therapies.

Diagnosing asbestosis and mesothelioma involves a comprehensive medical assessment. Medical professionals will evaluate a patient’s medical history, conduct physical examinations, and order diagnostic tests, including imaging scans, lung function tests, and tissue biopsies. While both diseases are associated with asbestos exposure, the diagnostic process helps differentiate between the two conditions and determine the appropriate course of treatment.

Prognosis and Treatment
The prognosis and treatment options for asbestosis and mesothelioma differ significantly. Asbestosis, while irreversible, progresses slowly, and the primary focus of treatment is on managing symptoms and preventing further lung damage. Treatments may include medication to reduce inflammation, oxygen therapy, and lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking and avoiding additional exposure to asbestos.

On the other hand, mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer that requires prompt and specialized treatment. The treatment plan for mesothelioma typically involves a multidisciplinary approach, including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and emerging targeted therapies. The prognosis for mesothelioma varies based on factors such as the stage of the disease at diagnosis, the extent of spread, and the patient’s overall health.

If you or a loved one were exposed to asbestos, you could be entitled to compensation. Call 412-471-3980 or fill out our contact form to speak to a member of our team.

“Asbestosis” U.S. National Library of Medicine (May 30 2021) [Link]
Chen, M. et al. “Mesothelioma and lung cancer mortality: A historical cohort study among asbestosis workers in Hong Kong” Science Direct (May 2012) [Link]
“Malignant Mesothelioma Treatment” National Cancer Institute (November 8 2019) [Link]
Mossman, B.T. & Churg, A. “Mechanisms in the Pathogenesis of Asbestosis and Silicosis” American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine (July 28 1997) [Link]
“The asbestos and mesothelioma connection” Penn Medicine [Link]

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