Pleural disease is common, with an annual incidence of ∼360 per 100 000 persons, and is associated with significant morbidity and mortality. The incidence is comparable to that of asthma and is expected to increase. The rising incidence is believed to be driven because the population at risk of pleural disease is growing: the global population is increasing, and patients are living longer with cancer and other chronic diseases. Furthermore, global asbestos use is not decreasing in many parts of the world, which is a major risk factor for mesothelioma and pleural thickening. NMPE is the most common pleural condition, followed by metastatic pleural disease, pneumothorax and pleural infection but with important national, regional and local differences. High-quality epidemiological data are lacking for most pleural diseases, with TB, MPM and pneumothorax as exceptions in high-income countries. This chapter provides an insight into the existing data and forms the epidemiological background for the clinical chapters in this Monograph.
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