Asbestos exposure increases the risk for life-threatening diseases like mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis, as well as less serious conditions, such as pleural plaques.
What Are Pleural Plaques?
Pleural plaques are white, smooth, raised areas of tissue found on the inner surfaces of the ribcage, diaphragm, and pleura. They are usually calcified and can range in size from small to large. Of all the health problems related to asbestos exposure, pleural plaques are the most common and least threatening. Pleural plaques are always benign and will never become cancerous, but scientific evidence suggests that the presence of pleural plaques increases one’s risk for developing mesothelioma.
How Are Pleural Plaques Formed?
When asbestos fibers are inhaled, they travel through the lymphatic system or the blood stream, working their way into the outer lining of the lung, known as the pleura. Embedded in the pleura, the fibers inflame the surrounding tissues, leading to the scarring that eventually develops into pleural plaques.
Diagnosing Pleural Plaques from Asbestos Exposure
Anyone who has been exposed to asbestos is almost certain to develop pleural plaques, even if their exposure was limited. Because pleural plaques do not produce any symptoms, however, they may not be detected for 20 to 40 years following the asbestos exposure. Even then, pleural plaques are most often identified when X-rays or CT scans are taken to diagnose other medical problems.
How Are Pleural Plaques Treated?
If you’ve been diagnosed with pleural plaques, you may be surprised to learn that no treatment is required. Since pleural plaques are not life threatening, there is no need to remove them, and because they don’t cause troubling symptoms, you won’t need treatments for pain or discomfort.
You may be encouraged to get regular check-ups, though, so your doctor can monitor the pleural plaques and watch for signs of other asbestos-related diseases.
Although pleural plaques alone do not put you in immediate danger, they are visible proof that you were likely exposed to asbestos – and they signal an increased risk for more serious conditions like mesothelioma and asbestosis. If you have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.
Contact Sokolove Law at 1-888-360-4215 for a free evaluation of your mesothelioma case.