Is there a difference between mesothelioma and other types of lung cancer? If so, what makes them different? And what is mesothelioma lung cancer?
These are only some of the questions that people often ask when it comes to lung cancers. In this article, we will go through this in detail, and answer each question.
What is Mesothelioma?
First things first, mesothelioma is a type of lung cancer. It is just as deadly as other types of lung cancer. However, what makes it different from other forms of lung cancer is the cause, and how it develops in a person’s body. The process of diagnosis for mesothelioma is also different, as well as the treatment and management.
So, what is mesothelioma? Well, you already know that it is a type of lung cancer. However, this specific type does not begin in the lungs. It begins in the pleural lining around a person’s chest and lungs.
Now, the cells comprising the pleural lining produce a liquid. This liquid is what makes it easier for organs to move around and against each other. Unlike other types of cancer, this type of cancer stays within the chest area. It does not spread to other parts of the body.
Each year, there is around 3,000 new cases of malignant mesothelioma. So, what causes this specific type of cancer?
What Is Mesothelioma Lung Cancer?
The primary cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos. Usually, exposure happens in the workplace. However, asbestos can be found practically anywhere. It’s a naturally occurring mineral that is often used as a building material for apartments, buildings, and etc.
It had been used for decades until asbestos’ hazardous properties became more and more well-known all over the world. Soon after, the use of materials with asbestos were disapproved.
So, what happens to those who are exposed to asbestos? Well, the mineral has tiny fibers that can be inhaled or swallowed. These fibers then get stuck in the pleural lining of a person’s lungs and their chest.
It develops really slowly. So even if a person was exposed to asbestos years ago, it can take decades for mesothelioma to get diagnosed. Those who are vulnerable are the ones who worked in construction, insulation, or shipbuilding.
Because mesothelioma develops slowly, diagnosis usually takes place in the later stages of the disease. By the time a person is diagnosed, the cancer may already be in its late stages. This is why a person with mesothelioma’s life expectancy is really low.
On the other hand, lung cancer can be diagnosed early with CT scans. And it can spread to other parts of the body. Mesothelioma is often diagnosed through a biopsy.
Treatment for both lung cancer and mesothelioma usually involves using a combination of medication, surgery, radiation, chemotherapy. However, mesothelioma is often more difficult to treat. This is because the tumors have already branched out. It’s widespread within and around the pleural cavity.
If you, or someone you know has been exposed to asbestos, or is in high risk because of their line of work, it’s best to see a doctor regularly. This is to help with early diagnosis and proper treatment.
This article is part of our series on Lung Cancer Treatments, Signs, Causes and Prevention.
Please check out the next topic in this series: What is multifocal lung cancer?