While mesothelioma is a cancer which can attack the lungs (as well as the stomach, testes, and heart), it isn’t lung cancer. There are very specific differences between the two diseases.
According to the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance, the main difference between mesothelioma and lung cancer is that mesothelioma develops in a different place. Pleural mesothelioma develops in the mesothelium membrane which lines the lungs called the pleura; this membrane also surrounds the heart sac, abdomen cavity, and the testicles. In lung cancer, a tumor can appear anywhere within the lungs.
The actual tumors involved also grow in different ways. Lung cancer tumors usually develop in individual masses and have clear boundaries, whereas, in mesothelioma, small nodules of tumor will spread throughout the mesothelium eventually creating a barrier-like tumor around the lung. (Source: asbestos.com)
The treatment of the two lung conditions is similar in that they can both be treated with chemotherapy or radiotherapy. The option of surgery for mesothelioma and lung cancer is rare in patients and often only offered as a palliative solution rather than a potential cure.
The other main difference between mesothelioma and lung cancer is why it developed in the first place. Lung cancer can be caused by asbestos, but it’s usually caused by smoking, while the majority of mesothelioma cases are caused by exposure to asbestos.
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