Asbestosis vs. Mesothelioma: What is the Difference?

Georgia-Asbestosis vs. MesotheliomaGeorgia’s history with asbestos dates back to the late 19th century when, in 1894, it was the first state to commercially mine the mineral. Operations began in the Sall Mountain region of White County in Northern Georgia at the foot of the Appalachian Mountain Range. The area contains 26 historic prospects and 17 former asbestos mines.

Other industries aside from mining such as manufacturing and power generation have ties with the toxic mineral in Georgia. Several sectors used asbestos extensively before it was linked to medical conditions such as mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer. Additionally, U.S. military operations in the state have a long history of exposing workers to vehicles, weapons and buildings that were known to contain asbestos. As a result, workers in the state may consider filing a lawsuit to seek compensation for their injuries.

According to The Mesothelioma Center, between 1999 and 2010, 440 deaths occurred due to mesothelioma, 99 people died from asbestosis. Although many may feel as though these two conditions are the same, there are several differences in asbestosis vs. mesothelioma, of which patients should be aware.

Asbestosis vs. Mesothelioma: What is the Difference?

While mesothelioma is not officially considered to be lung cancer, many may believe the two are interchangeable. This is a common mistake as many of the symptoms of mesothelioma are also typically found in patients with lung cancer, including shortness of breath, chest pain, dry cough and difficulty breathing. Therefore, it is not unusual for mesothelioma to be mistaken for lung cancer. The similarities also illustrate the importance for anyone who has been exposed to asbestos, whether on the job or elsewhere, to provide his or her physician with a concise, clear occupational and medical history.

However, once a patient undergoes testing and submits to biopsies and imaging scans, a diagnosis can be made. The major difference in asbestosis vs. mesothelioma is that the latter typically develops in the pleura, the thin membrane that lines the lungs and not in the lungs themselves. Additionally, while mesothelioma can also develop in other parts of the membrane, it always starts in the lungs.

Asbestosis is an asbestos-caused disease that is often treated with chemotherapy. Like mesothelioma, those with asbestosis are generally not candidates for surgical procedures unless the disease is detected early-on. While mesothelioma is always caused by asbestos exposure, smoking can cause lung cancer and is the most common cause of the condition.

Litigation in Georgia

Gwinnett, DeKalb, Fulton and Cobb counties have the most reported mesothelioma incidences in Georgia. Between 1999 and 2008, at least 27 Fulton County residents were diagnosed with mesothelioma, most of which were a result of occupational asbestos exposure at Georgia-Pacific. Since the 1960s, the pulp and paper company, headquartered in Atlanta, defended nearly 300,000 asbestos claims. Although Georgia-Pacific discontinued the sales and manufacturing of a joint compound that contained the mineral in 1997, the aftermath of more than 10 years of exposure resulted in countless deaths, many cases of related diseases and hundreds of thousands of lawsuits against the company.

Several important changes to asbestos litigation have occurred over the past 10 years in response to the growing number of lawsuits. In 2005, the Georgia Supreme Court placed stricter filing requirements on these lawsuits in one major reform. The new law requires plaintiffs to establish that the mineral was a substantial contributing factor for their injury before the trial, while in the past they had only to prove that the mineral was a contributing factor.

The law applies to all pending asbestos claims as of April 12, 2005, and significantly reduced the number of lawsuits filed in the state. If you live in Georgia and you feel as though you have a case, you must be able to provide a medical report from your physician stating that exposure to the mineral was a significant factor for your disease. For this reason, it is important to seek legal counsel to build a solid case and to work to get you the appropriate compensation to which you may be entitled.

Contact Attorney Group for Georgia Today

If you have questions about asbestosis vs. mesothelioma lawsuits or if you have developed a condition and you feel as though you have a case, contact Attorney Group for Georgia for more information. We can evaluate your case and connect you with an affiliated attorney who can work to help you seek the compensation to which you may be entitled.