Mesothelioma is a tumour most commonly occurring in the lining of the lungs. The tumour can appear anything from 10 to 50 years after exposure to asbestos. It is tragically a terminal disease.
The Pleura is the lining of the lung. Fibrosis of the pleura can create a thickening of the lining which, if extensive, may cause breathlessness during activity and chest expansion will also be reduced. Investigation is by x-ray and lung function tests. The condition does not affect life expectancy.
These raised areas of transparent fibrous tissue can be seen lining the pleura. They are caused by regular exposure to asbestos fibres, but do not generally cause impairment of the lungs. Pleural Plaques have no effect on life expectancy. As the law currently stands, no compensation claim can be made if solely suffering from Pleural Plaques.
Asbestosis can develop as a result of prolonged exposure to asbestos, usually more than 20 years. Symptoms include progressive shortness of breath, clubbing of fingertips and abnormal chest sounds. The sufferer will have been exposed to heavy amounts of asbestos fibres before contracting this condition. Investigation is by means of a combination of chest x-ray, high resolution CT scan and pulmonary function tests. The condition progresses slowly, and it can be very distressing, but thankfully few patients die from asbestosis.
People suffering from asbestosis or exposure to a level of fibres likely to cause asbestosis, may develop lung cancer. Sufferers who have also smoked are more likely to develop the disease. Deaths from asbestos-induced lung cancer are approximately twice as common as mesothelioma.