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Pleural Plaques - Asbestos Related Disease Compensation Claim Solicitors - Australia

LAWYER HELPLINE: 1800 339 958

Asbestos related diseases have been recognised for more than a century however it is only since 1991 that the use of asbestos and asbestos products has been outlawed in Australia. Due to the long period of time passing (the latency period) between exposure to asbestos fibres and development of obvious symptoms, which can be as long as 50 years after exposure, it is anticipated that new diagnoses of asbestos related diseases will continue to rise until about the year 2020. Our specialist solicitors deal with all types of asbestos related disease including compensation for asbestosis, pleural disease and asbestos lung cancer with a particular specialism in mesothelioma claim settlements. If you believe that you are suffering from an asbestos related disease we are able to arrange for you to be urgently examined by a medical consultant. We are able to provide detailed legal advice and pursue lung cancer, asbestosis, pleural disease and mesothelioma claims on a no win no fee basis. We offer free advice on compensation claims from specialist lawyers with no further obligation.

Pleural Plaques

Pleural plaques are white, fibrous, raised and smooth areas of the lining of the lungs which can reside on the inside of the ribcage, on the diaphragm and on the lining of the lungs itself. They can be very small or the size of a dinner plate. Pleural plaques are related to exposure to asbestos, a mineral that breaks down into microscopic needles that enter the lungs through respiration and work their way through the lungs, landing on the lining tissues noted above.

Asbestos fibers are of two different types. There are straight fibres known as amphiboles and curly fibres known as chrysotile. Chrysotile is used most commonly and clears itself from the body because it is a water-soluble fiber. Amphibole is dangerous because of its needle-like qualities and because it is not soluble in water. It stays in the body and sets up areas of fibrosis. It should be noted that, even inhaling chrysotile is dangerous because it contains some amphiboles that will damage the lungs.

Pleural plaques, as mentioned above, consist of fibrous tissue or scar tissue. This means that the area of the lungs affected by these plaques is so scarred that the lungs cannot expand properly. The lungs effectively become encased by fibrous tissue so they are “smaller” and not able to expand the way they are supposed to. Pleural plaques are often calcified, meaning they are filled with hard calcium and are even more rigid than simple fibrous plaques.

Pleural plaques do not go on to become cancerous mesothelioma of the lungs. Mesothelioma is a type of cancer of the lining of the lungs that is particularly dangerous. While plaques do not turn into mesothelioma, you are at a greater risk of developing mesothelioma if you already know you have pleural plaques.

Because some pleural plaques are never identified until autopsy, it is difficult to know exactly how many men and women get this condition unless there are symptoms. A rough estimate of the incidence of pleural plaques is that about a third to a half of all of those individuals exposed significantly to asbestos will have calcified pleural plaques. It takes a minimum of 25 years to begin to develop pleural plaques and after 30 years, this is when a third to a half of people will definitely have plaques.

It is not easy to find pleural plaques on plain x-rays unless they are calcified. X-rays pick up calcified plaques much better on x-ray than noncalcified plaques and even then, the sensitivity is only about 8-40 percent when compared to postmortem evaluations.

So who gets pleural plaques? Studies have shown that those people exposed to the most asbestos are more likely to get pleural plaques. Some people seem to have a lesser immune response to asbestos and are less likely to develop the plaques. Amphibole inhalation also has a greater chance of causing pleural plaques than the water soluble, curly fibres.

Other types of lung cancer besides mesothelioma seem to be associated with having pleural plaques. This is not surprising because both conditions are directly related to asbestos fibre inhalation.

Pleural plaques have no cure and are progressive in nature. Patients with many pleural plaques can be treated with oxygen to improve shortness of breath.

LAWYER HELPLINE: 1800 339 958