BENIGN PLEURAL DISEASES
There is much confusion about the different types of benign (or
non-cancerous) pleural diseases, mainly because different researchers and
doctors use different words to describe the same things, or the same words to
describe different things.
This is a discussion about pleural diseases that are related to asbestos
exposure, are not malignant (like mesothelioma), and exist only in the pleura.
They can be divided into three groups: plaques, thickening, and effusions.
Pleural plaques are small, hard, plate-like surfaces on the pleura, similar
to arteriosclerosis in coronary arteries. They are caused by asbestos fibers
that invade the pleura from the lungs. Medical researchers do not fully
understand the underlying processes of why asbestos fibers cause plaques to
Plaques rarely make breathing difficult and by themselves are seldom
disabling. Rather, they are "markers" that indicate previous exposure to
asbestos: they can help to confirm the cause of other diseases that might
otherwise not be understood to be asbestos-related. However, a person who has
plaques should be vigilant about his or her health. He or she may be at higher
risk for developing other asbestos-related diseases and should therefore advise
his or her doctor about this asbestos exposure.
Pleural thickening is a diffuse fibrosis in the pleura. Asbestos fibers that
move from the lung to the pleura cause the pleura to thicken and a widespread
fibrosis can develop. Researchers do not understand the underlying processes by
which asbestos fibers cause fibrosis.
This thickening can restrict the lungs' ability to expand and contract, and
therefore make breathing difficult. Like plaques, thickening is evidence of
exposure to asbestos and it places people at higher risk of developing other
more serious chest diseases.
An asbestos-related benign pleural effusion refers to a build-up of fluid in
the pleural space of a person who was exposed to asbestos and who does not have
any other disease that might cause a pleural effusion (such as mesothelioma.)
Some effusions cause chest pains, but many do not cause any symptoms. This type
of benign pleural effusion is treatable, and it should also alert the person to
be especially vigilant about his or her respiratory health.
Most people with pleural plaques, effusions and/or thickening do not have any
symptoms. They can be diagnosed using chest x-rays and CT scans.
SEE YOUR DOCTOR
This information should not be taken as a diagnosis in any way. If you have
symptoms of any of the asbestos related diseases, see your doctor immediately.
FURTHER INFORMATION AND ASSISTANCE
Consulting with a solicitor in relation to a possible claim for damages is
perceived as a daunting experience. This perception is often made worse when the
client has contracted an asbestos condition, and in particular one of a
malignant nature. However, it is important that you and your family are fully
aware of your rights so that an informed decision can be made.
It is critically important that you seek legal advice from a solicitor
experienced in Asbestos Litigation.
Please call AussieLegal on 1300 728 200 for assistance and a referral
to a recommended specialist law firm.