What are the Main Differences Between Asbestosis & Mesothelioma?

September 26, 2016  |  Mesothelioma

You may have heard about asbestosis and mesothelioma, but you might not know a lot about these two serious diseases. They actually have quite a bit in common, although they are not the same thing.

Causes and Symptoms

Asbestosis is a scarring of the lungs, while mesothelioma is a form of cancer that attacks the lining of the lungs. Both diseases have only one known cause – the inhalation of asbestos fibers. In many cases, people who develop asbestosis may later develop mesothelioma cancer.

Mesothelioma and asbestos also share many of the same symptoms including:

  • Chest pain
  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness
  • Unexplained weight loss

It is very important to note that just because you may experience these symptoms, you may not necessarily have either disease. Asbestosis and mesothelioma symptoms are very similar to those of much less serious health issues.

Talk to your doctor and get a thorough examination to determine the exact cause of the symptoms you may be experiencing. For example, mesothelioma symptoms often mimic those of the flu. If you are suffering from some or all of these symptoms and have been exposed to asbestos at work or at home, schedule an appointment with your doctor to see if you should get a screening.

Unique Symptom of Asbestosis

One symptom that is unique to asbestosis is the rounding, softening and widening of nails, which is an indication that the body is not getting enough oxygen. The scarring of the lungs caused by asbestosis can make it harder to breathe, and as a result there will be less oxygen getting to the blood.

Diagnosing Asbestos vs Mesothelioma

Doctors use imaging tests to diagnose both asbestosis and mesothelioma. This will typically entail the use of either a CT scan or an X-ray. A doctor will check the results for excessive white spaces, an indication that one of the diseases is present.

A form of surgery known as thoracentesis is sometimes used for asbestosis and mesothelioma patients. This procedure involves the drainage of fluid from the lungs, allowing the patient to breathe much easier.


There is also a substantial difference in the prognosis for both diseases. Patients diagnosed with mesothelioma are generally given anywhere from 4-12 months to live, while people with asbestosis can often live for several decades. However, asbestosis patients will typically experience a substantial decrease in their quality of life due to the progression of the disease.


There are several relatively conservative treatment options for someone with asbestosis, including antibiotics, pain medicine, inhalers and breathing tanks. Mesothelioma patients, however, will typically have to undergo intensive surgical procedures. In some severe cases of asbestosis, however, a lung transplant may be required.

Contact Us

Again, whether someone has asbestos or mesothelioma, there is only one cause – inhalation of asbestos fibers. Baron & Budd may be able to help you if you suffer from one of these diseases by helping you obtain compensation from those available. Please call 855-280-7664 or complete our contact form for a confidential consultation with an attorney for mesothelioma compensation.

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