While both mesothelioma and lung cancer are conditions associated with asbestos exposure and share similar symptoms, they are distinct diseases. Recognizing these differences is crucial for accurate diagnosis, appropriate treatment, and pursuing potential legal options for compensation.

Understanding Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a rare cancer caused by inhaling or ingesting microscopic asbestos fibers. It primarily affects those who worked with asbestos directly or had secondhand exposure. The disease develops in the mesothelium, a thin tissue surrounding internal organs. The most common type is malignant pleural mesothelioma, which affects the pleura lining the chest cavity and lungs. This accounts for about 75 percent of cases. Additionally, mesothelioma can occur in the peritoneum (abdominal lining), heart lining, or testes.

Understanding Lung Cancer

Lung cancer begins as abnormal lung cell growth, often forming tumors that may spread. While asbestos exposure can lead to lung cancer, various other factors, such as smoking, radiation, and genetic predisposition, can also contribute. Unlike mesothelioma, which is exclusively linked to asbestos, lung cancer has multiple potential causes, including:

  • Cigarette smoke
  • Exposure to secondhand cigarette smoke
  • Exposure to radiation or radon
  • Air pollution
  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection
  • Asbestos exposure

Mesothelioma vs. Lung Cancer: The Key Differences

Development and Spread

Lung cancer typically forms individual masses with defined boundaries, while mesothelioma often starts as scattered small nodule tumors in the mesothelial lining. Lung cancer has a higher tendency to metastasize to other organs, whereas mesothelioma remains more locally aggressive.


Examining cells under a microscope reveals distinct differences. This is a crucial step in diagnosis, particularly when distinguishing between the two diseases is challenging due to similar test results from imaging scans.

Testing and Diagnosis

X-rays, PET, and CT scans are employed for both conditions. However, tissue biopsy is often necessary for confirmation. Testing sputum may also detect lung cancer in some cases.


Lung cancer is more common, so doctors may initially explore this possibility, especially if asbestos exposure is not evident.

Treatment Approach

Due to their different growth patterns and behavior, mesothelioma and lung cancer necessitate distinct treatment strategies, which should be discussed with your healthcare team.

Legal Implications

As asbestos exposure is a common cause of both diseases, understanding the diagnosis is crucial for pursuing legal claims. Without a clear understanding of what might have caused your diagnosis, a lawyer won’t be able to hold the responsible party accountable for your damages.

Did You Receive a Lung Cancer or Mesothelioma Diagnosis? Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer Today

While mesothelioma and lung cancer may share certain characteristics, they are fundamentally distinct diseases. Accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment are essential for ensuring the best possible outcome for patients. If you suspect you may have mesothelioma, seeking specialized medical advice can be invaluable. Additionally, informing your medical team is vital for timely and accurate diagnosis if there is a history of asbestos exposure. Remember, advocating for yourself can lead to earlier detection and potentially improved survival chances.

Contact the Illinois personal injury lawyers at Menges Law Firm at 618-353-1376 or online today to schedule a complimentary case consultation.