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Am Fam Physician. 1993 Dec;48(8):1471-7.

Pulmonary complications of asbestos exposure.

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University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-New Jersey Medical School, Newark.


Except for benign pleural effusion, asbestos-related pulmonary complications, including asbestosis, malignant mesothelioma and bronchogenic carcinoma, usually occur more than 20 years after exposure. Pleural plaques and pleural thickening serve as markers for asbestos exposure, but they are not associated with an increased risk of malignancy. Clinical criteria for the diagnosis of asbestosis include a reliable history of asbestos exposure, an appropriate interval between exposure and disease detection, radiographic evidence of pulmonary fibrosis, decreased vital capacity and diffusing capacity, and bilateral posterior inspiratory crackles. A lung biopsy is indicated only to rule out other causes of interstitial lung disease. A history of dyspnea, pleuritic chest pain, fatigue, weight loss and pleural effusion in a former asbestos worker is suggestive of mesothelioma. Cigarette smoking greatly increases the risk of lung cancer in asbestos workers.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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