What are Pleural Plaques?
Simply put, pleural plaques are areas of scar tissue on the thin membrane surrounding the lungs, also known as the pleura. This is the most common type of benign pleural disease.
Pleural plaques do not carry any risk directly, but are evidence of asbestos exposure and cause to check for other more serious asbestos related diseases. If you are diagnosed with pleural plaques, there are still risks associated that are worth investigating, such as the presence of a more serious condition and the risk of developing a more severe disease in the future.
In short, pleural plaques do not directly increase the risk of developing cancer as they are not malignant, nor are they the same as asbestosis. However, as they can indicate earlier exposure to asbestos it is good practice to look into the presence of other illnesses.
How are pleural plaques formed?
Like other asbestos related diseases, pleural plaques are formed as a result of inhaling asbestos fibres due to exposure to asbestos at the time. They are difficult to detect without the use of a chest X-ray or CT scan and the symptoms may not expose themselves for years.
Should I worry about pleural plaques?
Pleural plaques are benign and cannot become cancerous over time. The symptoms of pleural plaques are also relatively mild with only some patients describing some pain or an uncomfortable grating when they are breathing.
However, because pleural plaques are evidence of exposure to asbestos at an earlier point, they do indicate that there could be a likelihood of developing mesothelioma or asbestosis.
Can I claim for pleural plaques?
As they do not usually cause any symptoms, pleural plaques are not a compensatable condition. In rare cases however, they can cause restrictions to lung function and when this happens compensation can be claimed.