The cancers commonly associated with asbestos exposure, like mesothelioma, the cancer of the organ linings, are often hard to detect before they become quite severe. These internal cancers often don’t produce noticeable symptoms until they’ve become rather serious for the patient. Later diagnosis can make treatment difficult and result in a worse prognosis for the patient.

Medical professionals are always looking for better and cheaper ways to detect dangerous cancers early, thereby improving the prognosis of patients and the number of treatment options available to them. Screening and testing for hard-to-control cancers like mesothelioma can give patients their best chance.

Unfortunately, early diagnosis is more challenging than many people understand it to be. Indicators that at one point seem to correlate with the condition can later turn out to be unrelated. That is the case for asbestos-related pleural plaques, which medical professionals have long associated with environmental asbestos exposure and the increased risk of mesothelioma later in life.

Research shows that exposure, not asbestos-related pleural plaques, influences risk

While it is true that only those with asbestos exposure develop asbestos-related pleural plaques, simply developing asbestos-related pleural plaques does not mean that a person will also later develop mesothelioma or other asbestos-related cancers later. Although both conditions have a correlation with environmental asbestos exposure, they seem to have no direct relationship to each other.

Australian researchers looked at two large populations of individuals with high levels of asbestos exposure, roughly 4,200 adults. What they found was that despite a previous belief that the presence of asbestos-related pleural plaques was a strong indicator for future cancer risks, the plaque itself didn’t seem to influence the overall cancer risk of a patient.

Instead, it was the amount and severity of the asbestos exposure that most strongly correlated with long-term cancer risks. Those with asbestos-related pleural plaques certainly still require regular medical assessment for mesothelioma and lung cancer, but so do others with high levels of environmental exposure who have not developed asbestos-related pleural plaques.

Testing and diagnosis can help you get treatment and compensation

Given the grim prognosis typically attached to advanced lung cancers and mesothelioma, many people despair of future options when they worry that they will develop these diseases. However, knowing your risks also means that you can run secure testing.

Routine medical examinations and testing could help you detect the symptoms of a severe condition before it gets too bad to control. Earlier diagnosis can mean more treatment options and a better overall prognosis for those with cancer and other asbestos-related conditions. Now that you understand that the lack or the presence of asbestos-related pleural plaque doesn’t influence your overall cancer risk, you can take a more proactive approach to requesting screening options from your physician.