The most well known twin deadly diseases, caused solely as a result of exposure to asbestos, can be often thought of as being the same condition. The two diseases are different and the differences, not always apparent because of similar symptoms, needs to be understood when undertaking a medical diagnoses, which will form an important part of any asbestos compensation or mesothelioma claim.

Mesothelioma

A less common form but more aggressive form of asbestos-related disease, mesothelioma is not just lung cancer.  The mesothelium is a tissue lining the cavities of the upper body.  Mesothelioma is a condition of uncontrolled cell growth that causes the mesothelium layers to thicken and often results in fluid accumulating between the two layers.  These cancer cells can be either malignant or benign.

Mesothelioma begins in the lining of the chest or abdominal cavities and can also affect  the nearby organs, the lungs and the heart. In the pleural area – the area around the lungs – it is a double tissue with the inner portion (the visceral layer) lining the lungs themselves and the outer portion (the parietal layer) lining the chest wall.

Peritonial (Stomach): Symptoms usually start with abdominal pain as the fluid buildup affects the abdominal cavity.  It can also be accompanied by shortness of breath and a cough, although these symptoms are less common.

Pleural ( Lungs) : Symptoms of pleural mesthelioma, as a result of pressure on the lungs, are shortness of breath. Other symptoms include a persistent cough, chest pain, hoarseness and sometime swallowing difficulties.  The more general symptoms for mesothelioma are fever, weight loss and fatigue, often misdiagnosed as pneumonia or some other common pulmonary problem in the early stages.

Pericardial ( Heart): Identical symptoms causing inflammation and eventually leading to the uncontrolled growth of cancerous cells.  As the membrane thickens, fluid buildup occurs and pressure is put on the heart. The symptoms can include an irregular heartbeat and little or no stamina, along with chest pain.  Similar characteristics of heart disease, initially, diagnosis for mesothelioma can often be misinterpreted.

Asbestosis

Also known as pulmonary fibrosis, the condition manifests as scarred lung tissue, which has been damaged by asbestos fibres, and is a permanent, progressive, restrictive lung illnes. Asbestosis causes shortness of breath, reduced lung capacity and chest pain. 

Pleural plaques: The most common affect of asbestos exposure, described as smooth, raised strips of fibrous tissue that develop on the pleura, affecting between one third to a half of all workers. Although not pre-malignant and are not believed to lead to further health problems, they will calcify however, and show up on X-rays as an indication of asbestos exposure.

Pleural Thickening: A benign form of asbestos disease, typical symptoms are also  breathlessness and a possible feeling of tightness across the chest and a scan or x-ray of the lung area is the only way to help confirm diagnoses.

It is absolutely vital to seek both medical and professional asbestos advice if any of the described symptoms appear and then linger on over a significant period of time.