Pleural plaques are fibrous, or partially calcified scarring formed on the pleura, caused by asbestos fibres. The ‘pleura’, is a two layered serous membrane lining surrounding both lungs that is attached to the internal chest wall. It can take many years after exposure to asbestos fibres/dust before pleural plaques can be seen on an x-ray or CT scan.
Pleural plaques are not cancer and do not form into cancer, however, are a definite indicator that a person has been exposed to asbestos fibres, and thus has a possibility of having contracted another asbestos related disease caused by the asbestos fibre/dust exposure.
Many people who have pleural plaques do not show any symptoms, or suffer any disability (such as shortness of breath and/or pain). In fact, many people can have pleural plaques and go their entire life without knowing it. However, in some circumstances, pleural plaques can be debilitating.
In Australia (and other countries), pleural plaques are normally considered not to be a compensable disease.
If you have been assessed as having pleural plaques and are in doubt, or confused as to what it means, please contact a respiratory specialist experienced in the field of asbestos related disease to discuss what this actually means to you, and your individual circumstances.
Not everyone who has been exposed to asbestos will develop pleural plaques or another asbestos related disease (ARD).