Asbestosis vs. Mesothelioma: What is the Difference?

asbestosis vs. mesotheliomaConsidered to be an nuisance by the Environmental Working Group, asbestos use was once prominent across the country until the 1980s. According to the EWG, more than 43,000 people across the U.S. died from asbestosis and mesothelioma between 1979 and 2001. However, experts believe this figure to be inaccurate, as the government did not officially begin to track mesothelioma fatalities until 1999. Between 1999 and 2010, nearly 32,000 U.S. residents died as a result of mesothelioma or asbestos, and in some heavily affected states such as Washington and Pennsylvania, related deaths extend into the thousands due to high rates of exposure.

Experts believe that some states have a higher mortality rate than others because their general population is older and because they attract more retirees. Others may have elevated mortality rates because they have more environmental and occupational sources of exposure. Each state had several jobsites where use of the mineral was prevalent, including refineries, textile mills, paper mills and chemical plants. The five states with the highest number of asbestosis vs. mesothelioma deaths and the estimated number of asbestos-related deaths include:

  • California: 4273-5792 fatalities
  • Florida: 3025-4481
  • New York: 2626-4088
  • Pennsylvania: 3046-3913
  • Texas: 2651-3627

Occupational and Environmental Exposure Hot Spots

Employees in industries such as shipping, mining, and manufacturing were more likely to be around asbestos and had a greater chance of inhaling the mineral and developing cancer. Although occupational exposure occurred across the U.S., high-risk companies were more prevalent in industrial states such as New Jersey and Michigan.

Naturally-occurring asbestos has been found throughout the U.S., most often in hilly, mountainous ranges. However, any region with large concentrations of host rocks such as serpentine or limestone may be laced with the mineral. Residents in these areas are at an increased risk of exposure, particularly if the asbestos was commercially mined.

Difference in Asbestosis vs. Mesothelioma

Physicians often use imaging scans and biopsies to determine if a patient has developed asbestosis vs. mesothelioma after experiencing symptoms such as a dry cough, shortness of breath, chest pain or if the patient has had difficulty breathing. It is important for those who believe they have been affected by asbestos exposure to seek medical attention to determine the difference between asbestosis vs. mesothelioma and from which condition they may be suffering.

Asbestosis is a nonmalignant, chronic lung disease and always begins to develop in the lungs. While the cancer can spread to any part of the body, this scarring of the lung tissues is exclusively caused by asbestos exposure when an individual breathes in the fibers of the mineral. Since asbestosis is neither mesothelioma nor a form of lung cancer, the prognosis of the condition is often positive.

On the other hand, mesothelioma forms in the linings of the lungs and not actually in the patient’s lungs. Similarly to asbestosis, mesothelioma is caused by asbestos inhalation, and patients may also experience the same symptoms. Mesothelioma is classified as one of three types, depending on the affected tissues, and the prognosis typically depends on how early the disease is caught and how soon the patient can begin treatment.

Asbestosis vs. Mesothelioma Lawsuits in the U.S.

According to court documents, approximately 730,000 plaintiffs had filed lawsuits in the U.S. as of 2002. This growing litigation, which is the longest-running mass tort in U.S. history, has reportedly cost legal teams and insurers more than $70 billion, calling into question whether more than 8,400 manufacturers and companies contributed to asbestos-related injuries.

Additionally, lawyers believe that lawsuits will continue being filed, given the latency period of the conditions. Although use of the mineral stopped in the 1970s and 1980s, one of the similarities between asbestosis and mesothelioma is that the two conditions may take 20 to 50 years to manifest themselves, and patients may not know they are living with a disease until several decades following exposure.

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If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with a life-threatening condition due to asbestos, Attorney Group wants to help. We can discuss potential claims on behalf of patients who feel they may have a case. We can answer your questions about asbestosis vs. mesothelioma lawsuits and provide you with a free case evaluation. If you decide to seek damages for your injuries, we can connect you with an affiliated attorney who can help you file your lawsuit.