WHAT IS PLEURAL THICKENING?
The pleura is the tissue that lines the chest cavity and the outside of the lungs. A healthy pleura is very elastic and plays an important role in helping someone breathe. What if the pleura is scarred or damaged from asbestos exposure, as in a case of “pleural thickening”? In that case, the tissue loses its elasticity and can cause great difficulty breathing. Certain pleural symptoms can indicate pleural cancer.
What is pleural thickening?
June 21, 2010 – Occupational asbestos exposure can lead to several changes in a worker’s lung tissue, including pleural plaques, pleural effusions, and pleural thickening. Of these three changes, pleural thickening is the most worrisome, as it is frequently a sign of asbestosis or mesothelioma.
Pleural plaques are patches of scarring on the lungs, chest wall and diaphragm which usually do not produce symptoms and are not believed to be a definite indicator of other lung problems.
Pleural effusions are abnormal build-ups of fluid between the lung membranes. Pleural effusions are considered a benign change that generally disappears after several months, but can also be treated with pleurodesis surgery. Pleural effusions still indicates a possibility of future asbestos-related problems.
Pleural thickening is a permanent change that can interfere with breathing and usually indicates a serious, life-threatening disease.
While pleural plaques nearly always indicate asbestos exposure, pleural effusions and pleural thickening can be caused by other factors. Pleural thickening can actually be present without any signs of asbestos-related disease.
However, pleural thickening is frequently a sign of asbestosis and mesothelioma, both caused by occupational asbestos exposure. Pleural mesothelioma cancer is caused by the inhalation of airborne asbestos fibers, which become imbedded in the lining of the lung, the pleura.
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Thousands of retired workers diagnosed with a job-related asbestos illness have filed asbestos claims against employers who failed to provide health safety equipment, and product manufacturers who neglected to warn consumers about the dangers of working with asbestos.
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