Asbestos Related Diseases

Exposure to asbestos can cause a number of health-related conditions, including Pleural Plaques, Asbestosis, Mesothelioma and Lung Cancer. Mesothelioma can occur in the lungs, the abdomen (peritoneal), around the heart and around the testicles.

Pleural plaques
Pleural plaques are the most common condition caused by past asbestos exposure. They are basically patches of thickened tissue on the surface of the lung. Symptoms may include chest pain in some people, but the condition does not necessarily lead to other asbestos diseases.

Asbestosis is a chronic lung disease caused by exposure to asbestos. It causes scarring in the lungs and makes them less able to transfer oxygen.

People with asbestosis have difficulty breathing. They may often have a cough, lung damage and, in severe cases, an enlarged heart. Symptoms usually appear 10 to 20 years after exposure to asbestos dust. Treating the symptoms can help — such as treating shortness of breath with oxygen. However, the damage to the lungs caused by asbestosis is not reversible.

Asbestos related pleural disease
Asbestos related pleural disease is a process that usually begins with an inflammation of the pleura leading to fluid collecting in the space between the lung and the chest wall. This is also commonly referred to as benign asbestos related pleural effusion.

The disease normally manifests sooner after asbestos exposure than mesothelioma. Symptoms include shortness of breath and discomfort. When the pleural fluid eventually goes away, the pleura on the lung may become thickened, which can compress the lung.

Pleural Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer caused by asbestos exposure. It is most commonly found in the pleura, the outer lining of the lung. Symptoms may include breathlessness and chest or back pain. It is a life-threatening disease. Treatment could include surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy or immunotherapy.

Peritoneal mesothelioma
Peritoneal mesothelioma is less common. The abdomen is lined with a similar type of tissue to the pleura called the peritoneum. Symptoms may include swelling of the abdomen due to a build-up of fluid. The disease causes discomfort and/or pain and obvious interference with abdominal functions.

Mesothelioma has a long latency period and signs of disease can develop up to 50 years after exposure.

Lung Cancer caused by Asbestos
This is often referred to as bronchogenic carcinoma. It is one of the most common complications of asbestos exposure and is a life-threatening disease. If you have been exposed to asbestos and have a smoking history, you are at an increased risk of developing lung cancer.

Lung cancer can be treated through surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and targeted therapies. There are cases of lung cancer being successfully treated, and it is important to speak to your doctor about all treatment options available to you.

The Beinke Bequest – Financial Assistance for people with an Asbestos-Related Disease

If you live outside the metropolitan area and need to travel to Adelaide for treatment or care, AVA may be able assist you and your family with the costs of travel and short-term accommodation while you are having treatment or care in Adelaide. This could include overnight stays, petrol, taxi fares or similar. Please contact AVA to see if you are eligible.

These funds are available due to the generosity of Peter Beinke, who made a bequest to AVA in his will to help with expenses for people from regional areas with an asbestos related disease.

For more information see our brochure here.