Lung cancer and pleural mesothelioma, both affect the lungs of a person. Mesothelioma is not a form of lung cancer; both of these are two different and distinct diseases. Lung cancer develops in the tissues of the lungs, while mesothelioma affects the lining around the lungs which is called ‘pleura’. Both these diseases cause serious health issues.
Mesothelioma is an asbestos induced disease. There are no other known causes for this disease. If a person has mesothelioma, then it can be implied that he/she was exposed to asbestos. This is why mesothelioma is called a ‘signature disease’ for exposure to asbestos.
Lung cancer can be caused due to smoking, and also due to exposure to asbestos. But mesothelioma cannot be caused by smoking. A person who is an active smoker and who was also exposed to asbestos has a much higher risk of getting lung cancer.
Cancer, Smoking and Mesothelioma
Smoking is always considered harmful to the body, especially to the lungs. Smoking and exposure to asbestos can both separately prove to be fatal to a person. Quitting smoking can however reduce the severity of developing lung cancer till an extent. Quitting smoking can considerably lower the risk of cancer in the future, but in way guarantees to do so.
If you are a smoker and are also suffering from an asbestos inflicted disease, then quitting smoking can be helpful to improve the quality of life. It can slow down the progress of the disease by making breathing easier, and can also improve the blood circulation. It is also helpful to reduce the stress on the heart.
It therefore becomes essential to know what the “synergistic effect” is. According to the ‘synergistic effect’, a combination of two or more exposures can be more dangerous than the aggregate of the individual exposures.
Here is an example to explain this well. Exposure to asbestos can increase the chances of a person to get lung cancer by 5 times. And continual smoking can increase the risk of lung cancer by 10 times. But if a person is an active smoker and was also exposed to asbestos, then his chance of getting lung cancer increases by 50 times and not 15 times. The individual risks are multiplied and not added.
The risk of cancer due to smoking will reduce once the person quits smoking. As per the American Lung Association, if a person quits smoking today, then his risk of cancer after a period of ten years will be half of what it would have been if he had not quit smoking. The risk of strokes, heart diseases and other cancers will also come down significantly.
Giving up smoking can bring multiple health benefits for the patient. The benefits are higher for a person suffering from an asbestos inflicted disease, or for one who has a history of exposure to asbestos.
It is advisable that patients remember that smoking can increase the risk and severity of lung cancer and mesothelioma by manifolds. While mesothelioma will only occur from asbestos exposure, but fact of the matter is that smoking does cause already suffering patients greater discomfort.