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Epidemiology of pleural mesothelioma in a population with non-occupational asbestos exposure.

Abstract BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: This study describes the epidemiology of malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) in a rural population with environmental asbestos exposure. METHODS: Patients with diagnosed MPM were recruited and their relevant demographic and exposure data were analysed. RESULTS: A total of 131 patients with MPM (59 men, 72 women) were studied. The patients' mean age was 57.8 years and the mean exposure duration was 28.9 years. The cumulative fibre count of the villagers ranged from 0.19 to 14.61 fibre/mL-years. Of the 131 patients, 85 had epithelial cell type, 20 had mixed, and eight had sarcomatous pleural mesothelioma. No significant relationship was found between asbestos fibre type and age, exposure period, or cellular type of MPM; similarly, no significant relationship could be found between the cellular type and age or exposure period. Patients with sarcomatous mesotheliomas were considerably older. Only five of 131 (3.8%) patients had a family history of mesothelioma. CONCLUSIONS: Environmental exposure to asbestos begins at birth and this may be important in the age of disease onset, if a threshold model for cancer initiation is operative. Both men and women had an excess risk of mesothelioma. Given that a family history of MPM was not common in this relatively homogenous patient group, a genetic predisposition to mesothelioma appears unlikely.
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