Diseases: Pleural Plaque Thickening, Asbestosis, Asbestos Lung Cancer, Mesothelioma

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Four specific diseases have been directly linked to asbestos exposure: Pleural Plaque & Thickening, Asbestosis, Asbestos Lung Cancer and Mesothelioma.

Pleural Plaque/Thickening

Pleural Plaque or Pleural thickening involves scarring of the lining of the lung indicating that an individual has had lung damage sufficient to be at risk for more serious complications. The condition is not cancerous. Plaque or thickening impairs lung function, restricting breathing capacity.


Asbestosis is a serious, chronic, non-cancerous fibrous hardening and scarring of the lungs. This scarring can cause lung impairment and heart disease. Symptoms of asbestosis are: shortness of breath, coughing and a dry crackling sound while inhaling. In advanced stages, asbestosis may cause cardiac failure. Asbestosis is a slowly progressive disease with a latency period of 15 to 30 years or more.

Asbestos Lung Cancer

Lung Cancer is the most common type of cancer, found in individuals who have sustained prolonged exposure to asbestos. Lung cancer, Asbestos related or otherwise, develops through the surrounding tissue, invading and often obstructing air passages.

The time between exposure to asbestos and the occurrence of lung cancer is often 20 to 30 years or more. It should be noted that there is a multiplying effect between smoking and asbestos exposure, which creates an extreme susceptibility to lung cancer.


Mesothelioma is a rare cancer of the thin membranes lining the thoracic and abdominal cavities and surrounding internal organs (including the gastro-intestinal tract). Virtually all cases of mesothelioma are linked with asbestos exposure. Symptoms of mesothelioma are: shortness of breath, pain in the lower back or side of the chest, coughing, and weight loss. Mesothelioma is the most insidious of the asbestos-related diseases in that it can affect people who have experienced low or intermittent levels of asbestos exposure.

Contact us if you would like further advice on asbestos-related diseases.