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The Difference Between Small Cell Lung Cancer and Mesothelioma

There is a definite difference between small cell lung cancer and mesothelioma, although many people refer to mesothelioma as a form of lung cancer. Although mesothelioma directly affects the ability of the lungs to function properly, it is in fact a cancer of the mesothelial lining surrounding the lungs and not of the lungs themselves.

Small cell lung cancer is the formation of small, nucleus based cells that cluster in the lungs. This form of cancer is almost always caused by smoking and isn’t directly associated with asbestos exposure. On the other hand, mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos and affects the lining of the lungs and the chest wall cavity.

Is there a link between small cell lung cancer and mesothelioma? Not in most cases, although in rare instances mesothelioma can spread and trigger secondary lung cancer (cancer that didn’t start in the lungs but ended up spreading there from another part of the body – in this case the mesothelial lining of the lungs).

Both Cancers Can be Aggressive

There are some common factors with both small cell lung cancer and asbestos mesothelioma cancer – both can spread quite aggressively and both cause pain the chest area, difficulty breathing and pleural effusion (the collection of fluid in the chest cavity or lungs). This is why it is so important to have x-rays, CT scans and any other diagnostic tests needed to determine whether a patient has mesothelioma or small cell lung cancer. Proper treatment hinges on proper diagnosis – and since both forms of cancer are deadly and can cause extreme discomfort, early treatment is essential.



There are now treatments in clinical trial, however, that may be effective in treating both mesothelioma asbestos cancer and small cell lung cancer. If you have been diagnosed with either of these diseases be sure to talk to your doctor or medical treatment team about the possibility of becoming involved in one of the current clinical trials for medications treating small cell lung cancer and/or mesothelioma.

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