Asbestos-Related Pleural Disease

There are a number of specific disease which have been directly associated with the exposure to asbestos. These include pleural plaque and thickening, asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma. This article will address each of the aforementioned diseases.

Pleural Plaque/Thickening

The thickening or pleural plaque includes scarring of the lining of the lung which indicates that an individual has had lung damage which is sufficient to be at risk for more serious complications. This condition is not cancerous. Nevertheless, this thickening or plaque commonly impairs the lung function, which restricts breathing capacity. Commonly there are some bilateral asbestos markers in the lungs which come from the exposure to asbestos. This is indeed significant in that it denotes an indication that this person is at greater risk than does the general population of developing lung cancer or cancer which is known as mesothelioma.


Asbestosis is known as a chronic non-cancerous or non-malignant scarring and fibrous hardening of the lungs, which is triggered by serious exposure to asbestos fibers in an extensive period of time. This scarring is known as fibrosis, and the more asbestos fibers ingested, the worse the fibrosis or scaring will be. But, the risk of asbestosis for people who do not work with the substance is minimal. The symptoms of asbestos are coughing, the shortness of breath, and dry clacking sound when inhaling. In the advanced stages, asbestosis may cause the cardiac failure. Asbestosis appears to be a slowly progressive disease with a latency period of ten to thirty years or even more. When asbestos fibers lodge in the lungs, as they often have endings like hook, the body sends anti-bodies so as to attack and kill these invading fibers. Since the fibers are entirely indestructible the anti-bodies die all around fiber as their invasion fails developing the scarring aforementioned.

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is the most general type of cancer, which is found in individuals that have sustained prolonged exposures to asbestos. Typically lung cancer develops through the nearby tissue, invading and oftentimes obstructing the air passages. The combination of asbestos and smoking is typically dangerous as these two substances interact to increase the risk of lung cancer dramatically. It may take 20 to even 30 years or more for the cancer to develop after being ingested to large amount of asbestos fibers over period of decades, since the inhaled asbestos is trapped in the lungs and cannot be removed. But, in certain cases, it may take even less exposure to asbestos to trigger lung cancer that it takes for causing asbestosis.


Mesothelioma is rather rare cancer of the thin membranes which line the abdominal and thoracic cavities and the surrounding organs, which includes the gastro-intestinal tract. Literally all cases of mesothelioma are associated with the exposure to asbestos and can be seriously life-threatening. The symptoms of mesothelioma are the shortness of breath, coughing, pain the side of chest or in the lower back, and weight loss. Mesothelioma is known as the most threatening of the disease related to asbestos. It can impact people many years after small or short-term exposure to asbestos, as well as the family members that have been around a worker’s contaminated clothing.

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