What is Pleural Thickening?

Pleural thickening is a non-cancerous illness caused by inhaling asbestos fibres. It is also referred to as Diffuse Pleural Thickening (DPT).

It is a form of lung disease characterised by smooth scarring that covers a large area of the pleural membrane, between the lungs and the chest wall—the word ‘thickening’ derives from the fact that the scarring causes thickening to the pleural membrane lining.

Although Pleural Thickening can be triggered by other conditions as well as from being exposed to asbestos exposure, it is the latter that is the most common cause.

Symptoms of Pleural Thickening

Pleural thickening gets worse over time. During the earliest stages of the illness, there may be few symptoms. As the disease develops, it causes the person suffering to experience increasingly frequent spells of shortness of breath, as the pleural membrane becomes thicker.

If the illness gets diagnosed at a relatively early stage of its development, the use of respiratory physiotherapy and oxygen therapy may help to ease symptoms.

When the disease progresses, it will close off any gap between the pleura, causing the lung to become wholly encased. As lung function decreases yet further, severe breathing difficulties ensue for the sufferer. Because Pleural Thickening is a progressive illness, the reduction in lung function can become so acute, that it results in death.

Does getting pleural thickening lead to mesothelioma?

Pleural thickening is a benign condition, unlike mesothelioma, which is a form of cancer. It will not turn into mesothelioma.

Nevertheless, because someone who suffers from pleural thickening is likely to have a history of significant exposure to asbestos dust, they are at a greater risk of going on to suffer from mesothelioma.

Pleural thickening sufferers will often be advised to get screened in the early stages of their illness, to check for the symptoms of mesothelioma. Whilst there isn’t yet a drug that will cure mesothelioma, if the disease is diagnosed early enough, treatment may be successful in relieving symptoms or slowing down the rate at which the illness develops.

Are pleural thickening and pleural plaques the same thing?

People sometimes confuse pleural thickening with pleural plaques. They are not the same condition.

Pleural Plaques are firm lesions of scarring. Sometimes they become calcified.

They can occur in patches on the lining of the rib cage but may also develop on the diaphragm and on the visceral pleura which lines the lungs.

Plaques do not usually cause lung impairment, and if they do, it will be minimal. Some patients may experience minor reduced lung function or breathlessness.

It is the least serious of all asbestos conditions. Claims for pleural plaques in Wales and England are no longer permitted, as a result of following a case which was decided on by the House of Lords in 2007.

Contrast this with pleural thickening, which is a severe and sometimes fatal illness and for which compensation is payable.

Can I make a Pleural Thickening compensation claim?

Where it can be proved that Pleural Thickening has been caused by exposure to asbestos, then it may be possible to make an asbestos disease claim. Asbestos is the leading cause of Pleural Thickening.

Although asbestos use was banned in stages in 1985 and 1999, the effects of exposure to asbestos take many years to present themselves in the form of a diagnosis of asbestos disease. Hence the reason that people who worked in environments where asbestos dust was present are still being diagnosed with asbestos illnesses, including Pleural Thickening.

Employers owe employees a duty of care whilst they are at work. Unfortunately, many employers failed to take any, or indeed any adequate, precautions to protect their employees from the effects of asbestos exposure. If a former worker subsequently develops pleural thickening, as a result of asbestos exposure, they can make an asbestos disease compensation claim against their former employer.

Can you still make a pleural thickening claim even if the company that you worked for no longer exists?

Since asbestos disease takes such a long time to develop (potentially 20 years or more), it can be the case that by the time a former worker becomes diagnosed with Pleural Thickening, the company that employed them, no longer exists. In other cases, the business will have been taken over and now operate under a different name.

Experienced asbestos disease compensation solicitors are very often able to trace who the insurers of that company were, even going back 30 or 40 years. If they can do that, then an asbestos disease claim can still be made, in the expectation that the insurance company (or any successor to the insurance company) will pay out any compensation awarded to the affected worker.

Provisional damages for pleural thickening

‘Damages’ is another word for compensation. As mentioned above, it is a possibility that someone who gets pleural thickening, may go on to get mesothelioma at a later stage. If that person has successfully concluded a claim for Pleural Thickening already, they may be unable to pursue any further compensation should they develop mesothelioma.

For that reason, asbestos disease solicitors may advise a client with pleural thickening to make a provisional damages claim. If that claim is successful, full compensation will be paid to the client for the existing pleural thickening claim. However, should the client then go on to develop mesothelioma (or the pleural thickening takes a substantial turn for the worse), the claim can be ‘re-opened’ so that the person making a claim can go back to court to ask for further compensation.

How long do I have to bring a pleural thickening claim?

You must begin a claim for Pleural Thickening, within three years from the date that you became aware that you were suffering from an asbestos disease. In most cases, the three year period will start on the date that you are diagnosed with Pleural Thickening.

Important points

  1. Pleural thickening does not always have an asbestos cause – previous pleural illness and/or drug therapy can cause this condition too. The precise cause is always a matter for clinicians to determine.
  2. Mesothelioma is a cancer of the lung lining and there is no cure for it. There will therefore always be a need to be aware that although Pleural Thickening cannot turn into mesothelioma, in any case of Pleural Thickening where the cause is asbestos exposure, the danger is that mesothelioma may develop in the future.

Asbestos disease claims made through Mooneerams solicitors

Mooneerams personal injury solicitors work in conjunction with an asbestos disease solicitor who is among the best in the country and who has over 20 years’ experience of helping people to claim for asbestos disease compensation including pleural thickening compensation.

Contact Mooneerams and we will ensure that the expert asbestos solicitor calls you promptly to discuss your potential claim.

Most pleural thickening claims are funded by means of a CFA (conditional fee agreement), or ‘No Win, No Fee’ agreement, as this type of contract is also known.

The solicitor will not charge you a success fee.

Our specialist asbestos disease solicitor can act for clients in Cardiff, South Wales or anywhere in the country.

Mooneerams solicitors do not receive a fee or profit share for this service from the solicitor. We want you to ensure that you receive the same standard of care and attention to your asbestos disease claim, that you would receive from us if we were pursuing a personal injury claim for you.

We are confident that our trusted pleural thickening claim solicitor partner, will provide you with a seamless service.

Call Mooneerams now on 029 2048 3615. If you prefer to, you can leave your details with us, by filling in the form on this page or on our contact page and one of our experienced team will call you back

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