Mesothelioma vs. Asbestosis – How Mesothelioma and Asbestosis Develop. Mesothelioma and asbestosis are both caused by inhaling microscopic asbestos fibers, but they aren’t the same disease. Each requires specific methods of treatment. Though mesothelioma and asbestosis are both asbestos-related diseases, they are not the same disease.
The primary difference is that asbestosis is not a cancerous disease, while mesothelioma is. Those affected by either disease may be curious what the similarities and differences of these two illnesses are.
Patients with mesothelioma and asbestosis experience many of the same symptoms, such as shortness of breath, especially early on. Both diseases also have a long latency period, taking years after exposure for symptoms to appear.
Treatment options vary greatly for these diseases, primarily because one is a cancer and one isn’t. They do, however, share similar palliative treatments to increase quality of life.
Unlike mesothelioma, the prognosis associated with asbestosis is much more favorable. Patients with asbestosis can live decades with the disease, but it takes careful medical management. However, asbestosis is still a deadly disease and these patients may develop mesothelioma in the future.
How Mesothelioma and Asbestosis Develop
Mesothelioma and asbestosis have the same cause exposure to asbestos. Therefore, those who are most at risk for mesothelioma (miners, electricians, veterans, etc.) are the same groups of people at risk for asbestosis.
Another commonality between these diseases is the latency period between time of exposure and emergence of the disease. It can take 10 to 40 years for both mesothelioma and asbestosis to develop.
Asbestosis develops due to scarring from asbestos fibers in the alveoli. Alveoli are the tiny air sacs in the lungs where the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide takes place. Asbestosis continually progresses as time goes on, and the lungs become more stiff as scarring continues.
Another major difference in the two diseases is how smoking affects them. While smoking has a definite impact on the development of asbestosis, studies haven’t shown a correlation between smoking and mesothelioma.
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