Free Mesothelioma Information Packet

Effects of Smoking on Mesothelioma Patients

Mesothelioma & Smoking

It is important to understand that smoking does not cause mesothelioma. Smoking complicates a person's chances of contracting the disease. Mesothelioma cancer, however, is a serious health risk because those who were exposed to asbestos (even for a short time) may contract it. Also, the signs and symptoms do not show until many years after the exposure. It has been argued that cancer such as mesothelioma sees higher death rates because of the patient's inability to detect the symptoms. By the time the cancer is acknowledged by a doctor, treatment is not easily administered.

Smoking and asbestos exposure (whether it is in the present or many years ago) is a very serious combination. The repercussions may include lung cancer or lung related illnesses such as mesothelioma. Though doctors and scientists are seeing breakthroughs all the time by creating different types of clinical trials, the outcome of contracting this disease is not a positive one. Asbestos exposure lodges the fibers in a person's lungs, creating scar tissue that develops the cancer.

Why people should stop smoking after a mesothelioma diagnosis

Many people are under the impression that only smoking causes lung cancer. In a sense, they are right. Mesothelioma is not a case of lung cancer. However, if the lungs are aggravated by the side effects of smoking, asbestosis can form. Asbestosis is not a form of mesothelioma, but it assists in the development of the cancer. Smoking does not increase the chances for developing mesothelioma, but it is argued to increase the chances of lung cancer by 50% or more.

It is important for the mesothelioma patient to stop smoking immediately after diagnosis. It is more likely that a patient who is a smoker will form lung-related illnesses than a person who has been exposed to asbestos for many years. This frightening statistic should be an eye-opener to those with a smoking habit. The only similarity between mesothelioma and lung cancer provoked by smoking is the lack of symptoms and diagnosis in the later stages. Both of these illnesses are difficult to detect at an early stage because of many factors. For lung-cancer patients, it depends how long and how much the person smokes. For mesothelioma patients, it depends on how much asbestos was inhaled and how long the person was exposed.

Smoking can lead to various types of illnesses, but if combined with other elements such as alcohol and other drugs, the chance for poor health increases ten fold. A smoker who has been exposed to asbestos at any point in his or her life should get tested immediately for both mesothelioma and other types of lung-related illnesses, even if symptoms are non-existent.

  • Dodson, R. and Hammar, S. Asbestos: Risk Assessment, Epidemiology, and Health Effects. Taylor & Francis: Boca Raton. 2006.
  • Stahel RA,Weder W, Felip E; ESMO Guidelines Working Group. Malignant pleural mesothelioma: ESMO clinical recommendations for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up. Clinic and Policlinic of Oncology, University Hospital of Zurich, Switzerland. 2008.
  • Pass, I., Vogelzang, N., Carbone, M. Malignant Mesothelioma: Advances in Pathogenesis, Diagnosis, and Transitional Therapies. Springer: New York. 2005.

Last modified: April 07, 2010.