Mesothelioma is an incurable cancer caused by exposure to asbestos dust and fibre. It usually develops in the fluid in the lining of the lungs (pleural mesothelioma) but can also affect the lining of the abdomen (peritoneal mesothelioma) and the lining of the heart (pericardial mesothelioma).
Lung cancer can be caused by significant exposure to asbestos dust and fibre over a period of time. Lung cancer can have causes other than exposure to asbestos, the most common being smoking.
Asbestosis is the name for fibrosis in the lung caused by significant exposure to asbestos. This condition is caused when large quantities of asbestos fibres, over time, damage the inner structure of the lungs, resulting in breathlessness.
Pleural thickening is caused when asbestos fibres breathed in penetrate the lining or pleura of the lungs, causing thickening of this lining. This causes restriction to breathing because the lungs cannot expand fully.
Pleural plaques are areas of scarring on the lining of the lungs caused by asbestos fibres penetrating the lining of the lung. They may become more extensive but they do not develop into any other asbestos disease.