Mesothelioma and the COVID-19 coronavirus overlap in many ways.
Most notably, the two diseases connect to an invisible airborne killer. Mesothelioma forms from asbestos exposure. COVID-19 is due to SARS-CoV-2.
This isn’t the only similarity. Both diseases are deadly, albeit at much different rates and volumes.
Mesothelioma kills around 3,000 Americans each year, and the majority of patients with this disease eventually pass away from it. COVID-19’s death toll is much much higher — more than 400,000 since the first case in 2020 — but more than 90% of people recover from it. COVID-19 has astronomically higher incidence since it’s a contagious disease whereas mesothelioma isn’t.
This is just the start of the comparison between mesothelioma and the coronavirus. Research published in the Frontiers in Psychology detailed how the two overlap.
Here are three other similarities between mesothelioma and COVID-19.
Similarity #1: Where the Diseases Form
COVID-19 is a respiratory tract infection. The virus can affect your lungs, such as damaging tissue or even the air sacs in the organs.
Mesothelioma most often forms near your lungs. The cancer develops in a thin lining called the pleura, which slices between your lung cavity and chest wall. This lining includes fluid and sensitive tissue walls and is a buffer allowing the lungs to expand as needed.
The two diseases’ proximity is one of the main similarities.
Similarity #2: Common Symptoms
Mesothelioma and COVID-19 also share many symptoms since the diseases can affect your respiratory functioning.
According to the Frontiers in Psychology report, mesothelioma and the coronavirus both involve:
- Dry cough
- Breathing issues
- Difficulty swallowing
- Chest pain
- Sore throat
Similarity #3: Psychological Trauma
The two diseases also cause psychological issues, such as anxiety, depression, hopelessness and fear.
Even after recovering from either disease, there’s a fear of a return. For mesothelioma, this is called “recurrence” and happens frequently. Some cancer centers have programs specifically to address this feeling.
For COVID-19, people may fear contracting a severe case of the virus a second time, especially if they have a weak immune system and respiratory function.
The Frontiers in Psychology authors wrote, “We believe that in both diseases, an integrated multidimensional intervention offered by hospitals and other public health services is the most effective approach to alleviating patients’ and caregivers’ psychological distress.”
The authors suggested group therapy in particular. This can help patients and caregivers “attribute meaning to the significant changes in their lives related to the experience of the disease.”
Main Difference: Exposure to Asbestos
The primary difference between mesothelioma and COVID-19 is how the two diseases develop. While both are due to invisible hazards in the oxygen, one is contagious while the other is not.
The coronavirus is transferred from person to person. Mesothelioma cannot be spread through interaction.
Mesothelioma forms when loose asbestos fibers are swallowed or inhaled. This only happens when someone is near an asbestos material that has decayed or been disturbed. The common settings include an occupation that requires working with asbestos or being in a building made with asbestos.
Sources & Author
- SARS-CoV-2 and Asbestos Exposure: Can Our Experience With Mesothelioma Patients Help Us Understand the Psychological Consequences of COVID-19 and Develop Interventions? Frontiers in Psychology. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7782241/. Accessed: 01/21/2021.
Sources & Author