Symptoms of Pleural Plaques

Pleural plaques are in the large part considered to be asymptomatic. However, where there have been symptoms observed in sufferers there has been reported chest pains and in cases where a person has had multiple pleural plaques there is the possibility of a difficulty in breathing due to the increased stiffness of the chest wall. Whether these symptoms were the direct cause of pleural plaques or the culmination of an associated disease is open to interpretation as there is relatively little medical research available.

What is important to consider is that although plaques can grow over time it does not mean that they will become cancerous, nor will they cause cancer or mesothelioma. However, evidence does suggest that they may be a marker for a future risk of cancer of lung cancer or mesothelioma because the existence of a pleural plaque indicates exposure to asbestos and exposure to asbestos can potentially lead to a range of conditions that can have a serious impact on health.

Some diseases that can be associated with asbestos exposure include –

  • Asbestosis
  • Bronchial carcinoma
  • Mesothelioma
  • Diffuse pleural thickening
  • Pleural effusion

Many people will have pleural plaques that are completely unaware of their existence due to the fact that there are typically no symptoms. Therefore, they will only find out that they have a pleural plaque after having been treated for something else and a scan has shown up a pleural plaque.

Upon discovery of a pleural plaque there can be considerable worry caused to sufferers because it is a sign that they have been exposed to asbestos in the past. Understandably there can be some anxiety but importantly a pleural plaque is benign and only indicates that there has been asbestos exposure in the past.

Experts suggest that around 36,000 to 90,000 people per year may be developing pleural plaques so they can be considered as fairly common. Pleural plaques of themselves are considered harmless and many thousands of people in the UK both knowingly and unknowingly have them.