Pleural Plaques Are Nothing To Worry About
The double-layered membrane lining the rib cage and surrounding the lungs is called the pleura. Pleural plaques (PP) are fibrous scars that develop following exposure to asbestos. Composed mostly of the protein, collagen, they are not serious. They do not give rise to symptoms and they do not develop into a more serious disease of the lung.
These fibrous scars mostly form on the inside of the diaphragm. This is called a parietal pleura. On rare occasions, they may be located near the ribcage.
Prior to October 2007, people in England and Wales who had been diagnosed with PP were able to make a claim for compensation. On that date, the Law Lords ruled that the condition was not sufficiently serious to warrant compensation and the final claim was settled in August 2011. In Scotland, however, victims are able to claim for compensation arising from PP and other consequences of exposure to asbestos.
There are other undesirable consequences of asbestos exposure apart from PP. Some of them can be very serious. These include asbestosis, diffuse pleural thickening, mesothelioma and lung cancer.
Asbestosis may take anything from 10 to 20 years following exposure before it develops It is a type of scarring caused by the body attempting to dissolve the fibers from asbestos. It sometimes worsens to the point that the lungs are unable to continue to function.
In addition to lung cancer, exposure to asbestos may cause mesothelioma. Mesothelioma may affect the pleura, the abdominal lining (called the peritoneum) or the pericardium, a membranous sac that lines the heart. Unlike lung cancer, however, mesothelioma is not connected to smoking. Asbestos may also initiate cancers of the larynx, gastrointestinal tract and kidneys. While mesothelioma may take up to 50 years to develop, other cancers that arise out of asbestos exposure tend to appear within 30 years.