The first step in fighting any cancer is to confirm the type of cancer you have. Every cancer is different, some are treatable, some are not, and they react differently to treatments, so it is vital a correct diagnosis is made.

Mesothelioma is a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. It affects the linings of organs and the most common type affects the lungs; this is pleural mesothelioma. There is currently no known cure for mesothelioma, however treatments are becoming more effective and many patients are surviving for far longer after diagnosis.

Mesothelioma v lung cancer

Mesothelioma and lung cancer can have similar symptoms. They often both begin with a cough, breathing difficulties and chest pain.

Pleural mesothelioma affects the lining of the lungs, the tumours start to develop on the lining and, over time, make their way into the lung tissue and to other organs.

Lung cancer starts in the lung and, without treatment, can spread to other organs.

The only known cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos whereas lung cancer can have a variety of causes, the most common being smoking. If someone has smoked and been exposed to asbestos, they are at a higher risk of developing asbestos-related lung cancer or mesothelioma.

There are a number of treatments available to mesothelioma patients, including chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery. Sadly, there is no known cure, so treatment aims to provide the best quality of life for as long as possible. Lung cancer, in many cases, can be treated and patients can go into remission.

Distinguishing between the two

It is vital to distinguish between mesothelioma and lung cancer, not only to provide the right treatment, but so patients are given the right prognosis and are able to prepare for their future.

Researchers in Canada have been working on tests to better distinguish between the two cancers.

They have identified a biomarker for mesothelioma. A biomarker is a compound found in body tissue or fluid which acts as an indicator for the disease.

The study looked at three biomarkers that are found in both mesothelioma and lung cancer cells, Claudin-4, Ber-EP4 and MOC-31. They compared the levels of these three biomarkers in samples from 31 patients with sarcomatoid mesothelioma, 68 patients with epithelioid mesothelioma and 147 patients with non-small cell lung cancer.

Claudin-4 and epithelioid mesothelioma

Claudin-4 did not show in any of the epithelioid samples, however the other two markers were not found the be helpful in distinguishing between the two types of cancer.

Pathologists Julia Naso, MD, and Andrew Chung, MD, wrote; “We conclude that Claudin-4 has considerably greater specificity and comparable sensitivity to MOC-31 and Ber-EP4 for separating NSCLC [non-small cell lung cancer] from epithelioid malignant mesothelioma.

Hope for the future

Whilst there is sadly still no cure for mesothelioma, there is a wealth of research, such as this, being done on mesothelioma. It is hoped in the very near future that more effective and efficient ways of diagnosing and treating mesothelioma can be found.

If you require assistance in pursuing an asbestos compensation claim for mesothelioma or other asbestos disease then please contact us today on our freephone number 0800 038 6767. Alternatively, head over to the ‘Contact Us’ page, complete the form and we will be in touch.



Naso, J, and Chung, A. A[ro; 22. 2020. “Claudin-4 Shows Superior Specificity for Mesothelioma vs Non-Small Cell Lung Carcinoma Compared to MOC-31 and Ber-EP4”, Human Pathology, Epub ahead of print,

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