Asbestos diseases

There are a number of different asbestos-related diseases.

It is important to know which disease you have, as they vary hugely in terms of the impact they may have on your health.

Which disease you have also affects whether you can get industrial injuries benefits from the government, and whether you can sue an employer for compensation.

Diffuse Pleural Thickening. The pleura is a membrane that surrounds your lungs and lines the inside of your rib cage. After breathing in asbestos fibres, these fibres can work their out to the pleura, causing scarring and hardening. The pleura then thickens, which can cause breathlessness. If x-ray evidence suggests your pleural thickening is severe enough, you may be able to get industrial injuries benefits. You may also be able to get civil compensation.

For information on the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of this disease, please click here.

Pleural Plaques. These are localised areas of thickening caused by asbestos fibres which have worked their way out to the pleura. Pleural plaques are usually symptomless. Pleural plaques are a sign that you have been exposed to asbestos, but you cannot get benefits or compensation for having this disease if your only exposure to asbestos took place in England.

For information on the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of this disease, please click here.

Lung Cancer. Exposure to asbestos increases the risk of developing lung cancer. However, there are many other causes of lung cancer. You can usually get industrial injuries benefits for lung cancer if you also have asbestosis. If you have lung cancer but no signs of asbestosis, whether you can get industrial injuries benefits will depend on the type of work you have done as an employee and how long you did it for. You may also be able to sue an employer for civil compensation.

For information on the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of this disease, please click here.

Asbestosis. This refers to scarring and hardening of the lung caused by asbestos fibres. It is sometimes called interstitial pulmonary fibrosis. Asbestosis causes breathlessness, and usually progresses slowly. If you have asbestosis, you can usually get industrial injuries benefits. You may also be able to get civil compensation.

For information on the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of this disease, please click here.

Mesothelioma. This is a type of cancer that begins in the pleura or in the lining of the abdominal cavity. The only known cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos. Mesothelioma can develop even in people who have had relatively little exposure to asbestos. If you have mesothelioma, you can usually get industrial injuries benefits. You may also be able to get civil compensation.

For information on the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of this disease, please click here.

A PDF of the excellent ‘The Mesothelioma Handbook’ (2016), published by the June Hancock Mesothelioma Research Fund in collaboration with Dr Helen Clayson, can be found here.