Blog Mesothelioma vs. Lung Cancer – What Are the Differences?

Mesothelioma vs. Lung Cancer – What Are the Differences?

In the realm of life-altering diseases, mesothelioma and lung cancer stand out, each presenting unique challenges and complexities. Emerging from disparate origins, these conditions impact the respiratory system and require distinct approaches for accurate diagnosis and targeted treatment. Beyond the gravity of their medical implications, mesothelioma vs lung cancer demands nuanced understanding due to differences in risk factors, symptoms, and available treatment options.

In this post, we dive into the key differences between mesothelioma and lung cancer, considering their unique risk factors, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment approaches, and prognosis. By navigating these differences, we aim to foster awareness, empower informed decision-making, and provide support for those impacted by these formidable diseases.


Mesothelioma vs. Lung Cancer: What Are They?

Before we dive deep into understanding the differences between mesothelioma vs lung cancer, let’s first understand these diseases individually. It will help us better grasp the nature of these diseases, making differentiation easier.

What Is Lung Cancer?

As the name suggests (and everyone knows so far), lung cancer refers to the development of cancerous tumors inside our lungs. Here, a tumor develops inside our lungs, which starts growing rapidly. The more it grows, the more potent and deadly it becomes. 

Lung cancer happens due to several reasons, like asbestos exposure, smoking, radiation, and inhalation of smoke and other minute dust particles. It has steadily risen to become one of the most common forms of cancer and one of the deadliest ones as well.

In the USA, over 200,000 lung cancer cases take place annually. Moreover, it also causes the most deaths compared to other forms of cancer.

Moreover, there are two types of lung cancer, which are:

  • Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC): In this form of lung cancer, the tumor is larger, but it grows slowly. Moreover, 85% of all lung cancer cases are NSCLC. Regarding treatment, doctors treat it using several procedures like – chemotherapy, electrocautery, cryotherapy, laser therapy, immunotherapy, radiation surgery, and photodynamic therapy.
  • Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC): This is the opposite of NSLSC and an even more deadlier form of lung cancer. Therefore, the tumor is typically smaller but grows at a rapid pace. Moreover, it’s rarer as well since only 15% of all lung cancer cases are said to be SCLC. Regarding treatment, doctors treat it using three procedures – chemotherapy, radiation surgery, and immunotherapy.

What Is Mesothelioma?

Similar to lung cancer, Mesothelioma is another form of cancer. However, the difference between mesothelioma vs lung cancer is that the former takes place outside the lungs, on its exterior tissue (known as the pleura). In addition, it can also take place on the outer tissue of our heart as well (known as the peritoneum).

In the USA, over 2,500 cases of mesothelioma take place annually. Moreover, the primary cause of mesothelioma is asbestos exposure.

However, there are three types of mesothelioma, which are:

  • Epithelioid Mesothelioma: Here, the tumor cells have an oval shape. Moreover, almost 70% of all mesothelioma cases are epithelioid. Regarding treatment, doctors conduct four main forms of treatment – chemotherapy, radiation treatment, surgery, and immunotherapy.
  • Sarcomatoid Mesothelioma: Here, the tumor cells have a spindle-like shape. Moreover, only 10% of all mesothelioma cases are sarcomatoid. Regarding treatment, doctors conduct four main forms of treatment – chemotherapy, radiation treatment, surgery, and immunotherapy.
  • Biphasic Mesothelioma: Here, the tumor cells have a mixture of some oval-shaped cells and some spindle-shaped cells. Therefore, it’s a mixture of both epithelioid mesothelioma and sarcomatoid mesothelioma (that’s why it’s called Bi-phasic). Moreover, around 20% of all mesothelioma cases are epithelioid. Regarding treatment, doctors conduct four main forms of treatment – chemotherapy, radiation treatment, surgery, and immunotherapy.

Mesothelioma vs. Lung Cancer: Key Differences

Originating from separate sources, mesothelioma and lung cancer exhibit unique characteristics due to their distinct roots. Mesothelioma, triggered by asbestos exposure, affects the mesothelial cells lining the lungs, abdomen, or heart. On the other hand, lung cancer is primarily associated with various lung cell types and is predominantly linked to tobacco smoke.

While both diseases affect the respiratory system, their disparate origins contribute to variations in symptoms, risk factors, and optimal treatment strategies. Recognizing these distinctions is paramount for accurate diagnosis, personalized medical care, and effective mesothelioma and lung cancer management.

Mesothelioma vs. Lung Cancer: Risk Factors

Understanding the risk factors associated with mesothelioma and lung cancer is fundamental to prevention and early intervention. Mesothelioma’s primary risk factor lies in asbestos exposure, commonly prevalent in industries such as construction and shipbuilding. Additionally, secondary exposure poses a risk to individuals in close contact with asbestos-exposed individuals.

Conversely, lung cancer is predominantly caused by tobacco smoke, with other risk factors including radon exposure, environmental pollutants, and genetic predisposition. Recognizing these distinct risk profiles is crucial for implementing preventive measures and fostering early intervention strategies tailored to each disease’s unique set of causative factors.

Mesothelioma vs. Lung Cancer: Symptoms and Diagnosis

Mesothelioma and lung cancer manifest different sets of symptoms, influencing the diagnostic approach. 

Mesothelioma symptoms vary based on the affected area but commonly include chest pain, shortness of breath, and abdominal swelling. These subtle symptoms often lead to delayed diagnosis, emphasizing the importance of a comprehensive understanding of the patient’s history, including asbestos exposure.

In contrast, lung cancer symptoms may involve a persistent cough, chest pain, and unexplained weight loss. Early detection is often challenging, necessitating a combination of imaging tests, biopsies, and thorough examinations. Recognizing the nuanced symptoms associated with each disease is pivotal for timely and accurate diagnosis, paving the way for more effective treatment strategies.

Mesothelioma vs. Lung Cancer: Treatment Approaches

Divergent in their origins, mesothelioma and lung cancer also demand distinct treatment modalities. Mesothelioma treatment often involves a multimodal approach, incorporating surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Immunotherapy and targeted therapies are emerging as additional options, highlighting the evolving landscape of mesothelioma treatment.

Conversely, lung cancer treatment may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, and targeted therapies, with the specific course determined by factors such as the cancer’s type, stage, and genetic characteristics. Recognizing the tailored treatment pathways for each disease is critical for optimizing therapeutic outcomes and enhancing the quality of life for affected individuals.

Mesothelioma vs. Lung Cancer: Prognosis and Outlook

Mesothelioma and lung cancer present diverse prognoses, influenced by factors such as disease stage, treatment response, and overall health. Mesothelioma prognosis is often challenging due to late-stage diagnosis, resulting in a generally less favorable outlook. However, advancements in treatment options offer hope, and ongoing research aims to improve prognosis and quality of life for mesothelioma patients.

In contrast, lung cancer prognosis varies widely based on the cancer’s type and stage. While certain types may have a more favorable outlook, the overall prognosis can be influenced by factors such as early detection and personalized treatment approaches. Acknowledging the distinct prognostic landscapes for mesothelioma and lung cancer is crucial for patients and caregivers to make informed decisions and navigate the challenges ahead.


In the intricate realm of respiratory diseases, distinguishing between mesothelioma vs lung cancer is pivotal for accurate diagnosis, personalized treatment, and nuanced patient care. 

Originating from separate sources, these diseases necessitate unique approaches, from risk factor awareness to tailored treatment strategies.

By understanding the disparities in risk factors, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment modalities, and prognoses, individuals and their healthcare teams can navigate the complexities of mesothelioma and lung cancer more effectively. Beyond the medical aspects, fostering community awareness and support is essential for those impacted by these diseases.

As research advances, shedding light on innovative therapies and improving diagnostic methods, the outlook for mesothelioma and lung cancer patients continues to evolve. 

By embracing a holistic understanding of these diseases, we move closer to a future where effective prevention, early detection, and targeted treatments enhance the lives of those affected by mesothelioma and lung cancer.

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