It has been estimated that over 80% of mesothelioma cases are caused by asbestos exposure. At the same time, we are reading stats year after year that 10,000+ people are dying each year from asbestos-related mesothelioma. Are that many people really dying of asbestos-related mesothelioma? The answer is kind of complicated.
Are Lung Cancer and Mesothelioma Related?
Mesothelioma and lung cancer are not the same things. While lung cancer is cancer affecting the lungs, mesothelioma is a type of cancer affecting the lining of some vital organs. In many cases, however, mesothelioma and lung cancer are lumped into the same category.
The confusion comes from the fact that mesothelioma was classified as a type of lung cancer decades ago before modern pathologic techniques were developed. Mesothelioma is not a type of lung cancer. Mesothelioma is a specific type of cancer not related to lung cancer, but rather, to the mesothelium, or lining of an organ. Peritoneal mesothelioma is cancer of the lining of the stomach; pericardial mesothelioma is cancer of the lining of the heart. The most common type of mesothelioma is pleural mesothelioma, the lining of the lungs. The rarest form of mesothelioma is tunica vaginalis mesothelioma or cancer of the lining of the testicles.
Why are Lung Cancer and Mesothelioma Often Lumped Together?
This is due to the aforementioned fact that mesothelioma was at one time considered a form of lung cancer. As modern microscopic techniques and procedures developed, it became clear that this was not the case and mesothelioma was a different type of malignant cancer.
The other reason many people lump mesothelioma and lung cancer into similar categories is due to class-action lawsuits. Many lawsuits brought up due to asbestos exposure lump all plaintiffs into the same category whether they suffer from mesothelioma or lung cancer (or even other forms of cancer).
How do Mesothelioma Class Action Lawsuits Work?
Many class-action lawsuits filed by workers exposed to asbestos and suffering from mesothelioma commonly include other plaintiffs who suffer from different types of cancer. Class action lawsuits can represent thousands of people and often include text specifying different types of damage.
The important thing to look for is whether every plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit actually suffers from mesothelioma or if the lawsuit also includes those who suffer from other types of cancer. Mesothelioma reporting, including cases & deaths, often has inflated numbers due to the nature of certain class-action lawsuits.
Individual plaintiffs who have lung cancer or mesothelioma are also suing previous employers, especially if asbestos was used in the workplace, or even if asbestos-containing materials were found in the workplace.
If you are more interested in how these lawsuits work and how things are classified, you should contact a lawyer for legal information or an expert asbestos contractor for information on mesothelioma and risks.
Illinois Environmental Contractors Association Resources
For more information on finding a local contractor to assist with asbestos information, remediation, or removal check the resources below:
- Illinois Environmental Contractors Association Members
- IECA Common Questions & Answers
- Illinois Environmental Organizations & Related Agencies
National Center for Biotechnology Information