Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that affects the lining of organs, including the lungs. Mesothelioma and lung cancer can cause some similar symptoms, such as chest pain and difficulty breathing.
Cancer is a broad term to describe a group of diseases that involve abnormal cell growth. They can start almost anywhere in the body, and each type of cancer behaves differently.
Lung cancer is a common and serious type of cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates that doctors will diagnose over
Mesothelioma is another form of cancer. However, it is relatively rare compared with lung cancer, with only around
This article compares mesothelioma and lung cancer treatments, causes, and diagnosis methods.
In some cases, mesothelioma can affect the lungs. Mesothelioma or malignant mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that develops in the cells that make up the mesothelium. The mesothelium is a thin membrane that covers and protects some internal organs.
Mesothelioma typically develops in the pleura, the tissue that lines the lungs and chest cavity. However, it may also affect the lining of the abdomen, heart, and testicles.
According to the
Asbestos exposure can also increase the risk of asbestosis, an inflammatory lung condition that
There are some similarities between the symptoms of mesothelioma and lung cancer.
The most common symptoms of pleural mesothelioma are:
- shortness of breath
- chest pain
- lower back pain
- dry and persistent cough
- problems swallowing
- a feeling of having something stuck in the throat
- facial swelling
- loss of appetite
- unexplained weight loss
- clubbed or swollen fingertips
Conversely, an individual with lung cancer
Doctors diagnose pleural mesothelioma using the following evaluations:
- Chest X-ray: This simple imaging study allows doctors to look for signs of asbestos exposure, including calcium deposits and thickened areas in the lining of the lungs.
- CT scan with intravenous contrast: This is a specialized X-ray that shows cross-sectional images of the body. Doctors use a contrast dye injected into a vein to highlight the tissues and structures, allowing them to see more detail.
- Thoracentesis: If doctors identify a buildup of fluid between the lungs and the chest wall, they will drain some fluid with a needle to exclude potential causes.
- Biopsy: A doctor obtains a small tissue sample from the chest wall while the individual is under anesthetic. They then send the sample to the laboratory to look for mesothelioma.
- PET scan: If the individual has mesothelioma, a doctor may recommend a PET scan to see if the cancer has spread.
If the doctor finds a suspicious mass on the chest images, they may take a biopsy or tissue sample from the area to send to the lab for analysis.
Mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer with no cure. However, if doctors catch it early enough, surgery to remove the affected areas is an option. Even if surgery cannot completely treat the cancer, it can reduce fluid buildups that cause breathing difficulties.
Doctors may also recommend chemotherapy to reduce uncomfortable symptoms. Chemotherapy is a strong form of medication that can shrink and slow the growth of cancer cells. Other options include immunotherapy to support the immune system in fighting cancer cells.
If an individual has lung cancer, doctors will decide on the best treatment depending on the type of lung cancer and its spread. Options
- surgery to remove cancerous masses or portions of the lungs
- chemotherapy to shrink and kill cancer cells
- radiation therapy using high energy rays to destroy cancer cells
- targeted therapy to block the growth and spread of cancer
In cases of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), doctors may recommend a combination of the above treatments. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy are the standard options for small cell lung cancer (SCLC).
Doctors typically diagnose malignant mesothelioma when an individual has symptoms and the condition is advanced. It is an aggressive form of cancer and is usually life threatening. Most individuals with pleural mesothelioma have a median survival of fewer than 14 months.
Although mesothelioma is a serious condition, palliative care can help control an individual’s symptoms by controlling pain and making life more comfortable.
The outlook for a person with lung cancer will depend on the type of cancer, its stage, and the person’s general health.
According to the
Lung cancer and mesothelioma are both cancers that can affect the lungs. However, mesothelioma describes a condition that affects the cells that make up the mesothelium. As the mesothelium lines the lungs, abdomen, heart, and testicles, it can also develop in any of these places.
Mesothelioma is rare and typically occurs due to asbestos exposure. In contrast, lung cancer is a relatively common form of cancer and typically affects people with a history of smoking.
Symptoms of both conditions may include difficulty breathing, coughing, and chest pain. Doctors may use a similar approach to diagnose both conditions.