Asbestos-related pleural plaques may develop in the lung lining decades after asbestos exposure. Plaques are unique among asbestos-related diseases as they’re usually harmless, causing no symptoms and needing no treatment. However, you can pursue compensation and medical treatment if the plaques appear with more dangerous asbestos diseases, like mesothelioma or lung cancer.
What Are Pleural Plaques?
Pleural plaques are the most common asbestos-related disease. They are small, hard clumps of a protein called collagen in the lining of the lungs (pleura). Calcium may also build up in some pleural plaques as well.
Pleural plaques are rectangle-shaped masses with a white, tan, or gray color. They are unique among asbestos-related diseases in that they don’t normally cause any symptoms and require no treatment. You can live just as long with pleural plaques as without them.
That said, the presence of pleural plaques means you were exposed to asbestos. Thus, you could develop deadly illnesses like malignant pleural mesothelioma. Your risk is higher if you had a lot of occupational asbestos exposure.
Help is available if you have plaques and another asbestos-related pleural disease. Our team can help you access financial compensation to cover medical bills and other expenses. Learn if you qualify for compensation right now.
What Causes Pleural Plaque?
Pleural plaques are caused by asbestos exposure. You may develop pleural plaques 20-30 years after being exposed to asbestos.
Asbestos is a fiber-like substance that was once used in thousands of products since it was very strong and durable. However, asbestos is now known to cause many diseases, including pleural plaques.
How asbestos causes pleural plaques:
- Asbestos-based products can release fibers into the air if they’re handled or damaged. Anyone nearby could then inhale the microscopic fibers without noticing.
- Asbestos fibers get stuck in the lung lining and irritate healthy lung tissue.
- After the latency period passes (20-30 years), pleural plaques and other asbestos-related diseases can form.
Asbestos Job Sites & Pleural Plaque Risks
You’re more likely to develop pleural plaques and other asbestos-related diseases if you worked at an asbestos job site. That’s because you were exposed to asbestos at higher rates than the general population.
A 2020 case report noted that those who work around asbestos are roughly 6-7 times more likely to develop pleural plaques than those who didn’t.
Working at these asbestos job sites can cause you to develop pleural plaques:
- Construction sites
- Manufacturing plants
- Military bases
- Power stations
- Other sites
Sadly, pleural plaques and other asbestos-related diseases could have been avoided. Makers of asbestos-based products knew the risk factors of exposure back in the 1930s but hid the facts to keep making money.
By the time the truth was revealed decades later, millions had been put at risk due to the prevalence of asbestos in dozens of industries.
Pleural Plaque Symptoms
Unlike many other asbestos-related diseases, pleural plaques usually don’t cause any symptoms. Some patients may experience slight difficulty breathing.
If you were exposed to asbestos and are now having worrisome symptoms like a cough, chest pain, or shortness of breath, contact your doctor. Your symptoms may stem from another asbestos-related disease that’s more dangerous.
Diagnosing Pleural Plaques
Doctors diagnose pleural plaques using high-resolution imaging tests to look inside the chest wall. These are known as radiography scans.
Chest radiograph scans to diagnose pleural plaques include:
- Computed tomography (CT) scans
Since pleural plaques don’t cause any symptoms in most cases, patients are usually diagnosed when they’re getting a chest CT scan or X-ray for another reason.
Radiologists can also see if calcification has also occurred with these scans. Calcified pleural plaques are slightly different in that both calcium and collagen have built up.
Calcified pleural plaques are easier to see through imaging scans, but they don’t pose an increased risk to human health compared to normal pleural plaques.
Pleural plaques can look like other types of health problems under a microscope. These are known as differential diagnoses. Doctors may diagnose patients who actually have pleural plaques with mesothelioma, tuberculosis, or another serious pulmonary disease.
To avoid getting misdiagnosed, make sure to get a second opinion from another doctor. A second opinion helps to confirm your diagnosis or see if you actually have another illness. Always report any past exposure to asbestos to your doctors.
Treatment for Pleural Plaques
Because pleural plaques don’t normally produce any symptoms or affect your overall health, no treatment is required. This is true for both calcified pleural plaques and normal pleural plaques.
That said, you may want to keep a closer eye on your health if you’re diagnosed with pleural plaques.
Plaques don’t cause any illnesses themselves, but they do mean you’ve been exposed to asbestos. You could develop more serious asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma later on as a result.
Make sure to follow up with your doctor if you start feeling unwell. Prompt diagnosis and treatments can help you live longer if you develop a dangerous asbestos disease.
Get Help for Pleural Plaques & Other Asbestos-Related Diseases
You can get financial compensation and medical care if you’ve developed pleural plaques and more serious illnesses after working on an asbestos job site.
Makers of asbestos-based products knew their goods could cause people to get sick, but instead of owning up, they concealed the truth for decades. They put you and countless others in harm’s way to make money.
Thankfully, our team is here to help you stand up to this corporate greed. We can pursue financial aid from makers of asbestos products on your behalf, so you can pay for medical expenses and other bills.
Learn if you qualify for compensation right now.
FAQs About Pleural Plaques
Is pleural plaque the same thing as pleural thickening?
No. Pleural plaques aren’t the same disease as diffuse pleural thickening, though they’re both caused by asbestos exposure.
Pleural thickening occurs when the lung lining becomes inflamed, which can lead to breathing problems. This symptom often appears alongside buildups of pus or blood in the pleural space. Pleural thickening can also be a sign of cancer.
Pleural plaques are not a form or sign of malignancies (cancers) and they usually don’t cause any symptoms.
What is the difference between asbestosis and pleural plaques?
Pleural plaques and asbestosis are two very different asbestos-related diseases.
Asbestosis is not a form of cancer, but is quite dangerous. This lung disease occurs when asbestos fibers damage the lungs, leading to impaired lung function that worsens over time. It can greatly affect quality of life and can even be deadly.
Pleural plaques, on the other hand, aren’t usually harmful to human health and don’t cause any symptoms.
Who is at risk of developing pleural plaques?
Anyone who was exposed to asbestos is at risk of pleural abnormalities like plaques. People who worked on asbestos job sites between the 1930s and early 1980s were regularly exposed to dangerous products.
These asbestos workers are more likely to develop pleural plaques and other asbestos-related diseases later in life as a result.
Are pleural plaques serious?
You likely won’t experience any symptoms if you have pleural plaques, and they aren’t dangerous to your health.
However, since pleural plaques are caused by asbestos exposure, you might be at risk of lung cancer, asbestosis, mesothelioma, or other asbestos-related diseases.
Can pleural plaques be removed?
No, pleural plaques cannot be removed. There’s no need to remove the plaques as they don’t cause any health problems.
Can you get compensation for pleural plaques?
You can recover financial compensation if you have pleural plaques and another asbestos-related disease, like mesothelioma or asbestosis.
See if you qualify for compensation right now. Our team is standing by to assist you.