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Ind Health. 2001 Apr;39(2):161-7.

Asbestos exposure in malignant mesothelioma of the pleura: a survey of 557 cases.

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  • 1Laboratory of Pathological Anatomy, Hospital of Monfalcone, Italy.


A series of 557 malignant mesotheliomas of the pleura diagnosed in the Trieste-Monfalcone area, Italy, in the period 1968-2000 were reviewed. The series included 492 men and 65 women, aged between 32 and 93 years (median age 69 years). Necropsy findings were available in 456 cases (82%). Occupational histories were obtained from the patients themselves or from their relatives by personal or telephone interviews. Routine lung sections were examined for asbestos bodies in 442 cases. In 109 cases isolation and counting of asbestos bodies were performed. A majority of people had histories of working in the shipyards. Asbestos bodies were observed in lung sections in 67% of the cases. Lung asbestos body burdens after isolation ranged between 20 bodies and about 10 millions of bodies/g dried tissue. Latency periods (time intervals between first exposure to asbestos and death) ranged between 14 and 75 years (mean 48.8 years, median 51.0). Latency periods among insulators and dock workers were shorter than among the other categories. High asbestos consumption occurred in many countries in the 1960s and in the 1970s. The data on latency periods obtained in the present study suggest that a world mesothelioma epidemic has to be expected in the coming decades.

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