Asbestos related diseases

Breathing in asbestos fibres can damage your lungs. There are four main diseases associated with inhalation of asbestos fibres:

  • mesothelioma: a form of cancer mainly affecting the lining of the lungs
  • asbestos-related lung cancer
  • asbestosis: a non-malignant scarring of the lung tissue
  • non malignant pleural disease (diffuse pleural thickening and pleural plaques)

The symptoms of asbestos-related disease take many years - even decades - to appear after the original expousre to asbestos, so exposure a long time ago might only be showing up as a disease today.

Further information is available from the British Lung Foundation website.

Asbestos Action (Tayside)

Asbestos Action is a Scottish charity that has been set up to assist sufferers of asbestos related diseases in Scotland. The charity provides one to one support for those diagnosed with an asbestos related illness, including:

  • providing personal one-to-one support
  • answering any questions you may have
  • advising on benefits and compensation as well as helping to complete any forms
  • continuing ongoing emotional and practical support to sufferers and their family

If you have been diagnosed with an asbestos related illness or have concerns about previous exposure, contact Asbestos Action for an informal chat on 01382 225715 or email

Clydeside Action on Asbestos

Clydeside Action on Asbestos is a charity providing expert advice and information, and campaigning on behalf of those affected by asbestos related disease. The charity's emphasis is on ensuring that people have the resources and information to improve their quality of life. This is achieved through the provision of a welfare rights service, a network of support groups in Scotland, information about self management techniques, a website with detailed advice and an interactive chat forum, the compilation of a Mesothelioma Newsletter, which is distributed to the medical profession throughout the UK, hosting conferences and Patient/Carer Information Days.

Resources for patients

Click on the link to access the Clydeside Action on Asbestos Self Management Toolkit: Living with an asbestos-related disease. The toolkit contains 5 booklets and a DVD: Common Investigations; Frequently Asked Questions; Managing Breathlessness; Hints and Tips; Personal Stories.


Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that most often starts in the covering of the lungs (pleural mesothelioma) but can also start in the abdomen (peritoneal mesothelioma). It is a cancer of mesothelial cells. These cover the outer surface of most of our internal body organs, forming a lining that is called the mesothelium. Mesothelioma is quite a rare cancer but it is becoming more common1.

In March this year, the Scottish Government devised a proforma for recording mesothelioma diagnosis to help reduce stress caused to relatives when a person diagsnosed with mesothelioma, or suspected of having mesothelioma, dies. It details the information required by the Procurator Fiscal through a structured, consistent record and enables decisions to be made expeditiously without always requiring a post morten to establish the facts required for a civil case for compensation to proceed. It also obviates the need for relatives to be interviewed by the police at a very stressful time.

The Respiratory MCN would like to encourage all medical staff who certify deaths to use the mesothelioma proforma. If mesothelioma is already diagnosed prior to death, parts 1 & 2 can be filled out as part of the anticipatory care planning and kept in the patient's medical notes.

Copies of the proforma and accompanying Scottish Government letter can be found on the Cancer Research UK website.

Further information about Mesothelioma can be found on the British Lung Foundation website.