The process of seeking asbestos compensation must begin with seeking proper asbestos advice from both medical and legal practitioners. Careful and thorough examination of employment, health and lifestyle history, and their possible effects on the development of an illness and outward symptoms, is critical to the success of a claim.

This especially applies to the rare but still prevalent asbestos cancer known as mesothelioma, due to the many similarities to lung cancer, which affect the same general area of the body and exhibit many of the same symptoms. Yet there are key differences – from the causes and development of the cancers and the structure of the tumours, to their treatment.

Proceeding with an application for mesothelioma compensation will require knowing and understanding the crucial differences.

One of the reasons that these two diseases can be confused with each other is that exposure to the toxic material asbestos can cause both of them. Yet the two occur in different tissues of the body. Lung cancer affects the lung tissue itself, whereas mesothelioma attacks the pleura, which is a thin membrane that both covers the lungs (and other organs) and lines the inside of the chest cavity.

Mesothelioma may later affect the lung tissue, but it always begins in the membrane. Although pleural mesothelioma is the most common form of the cancer, it can also strike the peritoneal ( stomach membrane) or pericardial mesothelia ( heart membrane).

Asbestos exposure is the primary cause of mesothelioma, although there are some other possible causes of the disease—exposure to a chemical once used in diagnostic X-rays, and to a virus, which contaminated several million polio vaccines.
However, lung cancer may be caused by a number or a combination of factors. Most notably smoking, secondhand smoking, a family history of the disease, and exposure to radon gas.

Although patients diagnosed with lung cancer may have large or multiple tumours, they are generally concentrated masses with clearly defined boundaries. This makes them easier for a surgeon to remove, thereby increasing the chances of actually curing the cancer.

Mesothelioma, on the other hand, is characterised by being ‘spread out’. The ‘tumour’ is not a contained mass but instead extends across the surface of the mesothelium, making it extremely difficult to operate upon. For the same reasons, lung cancer is more receptive to chemotherapy and radiation, whereas both of these therapies are usually unable to stop the growth of the malignant tissues.

Another significant difference between these two types of cancer is their rates of occurrence. The decline in cigarette smoking will undoubtedly cause lung cancer rates to fall, whilst mesothelioma rates are expected to continue in the coming decades, because the disease has such a long latency period. Yet mesothelioma will always be a much rarer cancer.

Lung cancer patients have a five-year survival rate between 15 and 75 percent, but fewer than 10 percent of mesothelioma patients live two years or longer past diagnosis.