Asbestos exposure: challenges for Australian clinicians

Arthur W (Bill) Musk, Nicholas H de Klerk and Anna K Nowak
Med J Aust 2016; 204 (2): 48-49. || doi: 10.5694/mja15.01072

The unique properties of asbestos that still make it valuable for industry make it extremely hazardous to health

Due to the extensive past use of asbestos in Australia, known exposure is common and causes anxiety, especially because of the acknowledged increased risk of thoracic malignancies. With the increasing use of computed tomography for routine diagnostic purposes, more people are being identified with pleural plaques from minor asbestos exposure. This has led to increased concerns about the risks of more serious asbestos-related diseases (ARDs) developing, and has resulted in an increased number of diagnostic tests being performed, even though the presence of pleural plaques is not as such a risk factor for (pleural) malignant mesothelioma (MM) or bronchogenic cancer.1 Nevertheless, anxiety2 and the inability to reduce MM risk following exposure3 or to halt progression of established asbestosis result in significant health care problems and expenditure.

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  • Arthur W (Bill) Musk1
  • Nicholas H de Klerk2
  • Anna K Nowak1

  • 1 Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Perth, WA
  • 2 Telethon Kids Institute, Perth, WA

Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.

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