Department of Internal Medicine, University of Manitoba, Canada.
PURPOSE OF REVIEW:
Asbestos exposure is the cause of significant pleural disease - both benign and malignant. Although there is increased awareness, individuals continue to be exposed, and we will continue to see its sequelae for years to come because of the delay between exposure and disease manifestation. Asbestos-related pleural disease includes pleural plaques, diffuse pleural thickening, benign asbestos-related pleural effusions (BAPEs), and malignant pleuralmesothelioma (MPM).
Several recent studies are highlighted throughout this review, including a comparative analysis of diagnostic imaging modalities for identifying and characterizing pleural plaques, the effect of pleural plaques on lung volumes and flows, and how pain is a relatively common feature in patients with pleural plaques. Advances in the treatment of MPM are limited, but a recent publication highlights the increased morbidity associated with surgical debulking procedures and questions the benefit of these procedures.
Asbestos-related pleural disease will continue to present a significant burden of illness. Recent publications have suggested potential treatment benefit and point to areas that would require further investigation.