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Malignant Mesothelioma In Rome, Italy 1980-1995. A Retrospective Study Of 79 Patients

Valeria Ascoli, Caterina Carnovale Scalzo, Francesco Facciolo, Massimo Martelli, Liborio Manente, Pietro Comba, Caterina Bruno, Francesco Nardi

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Aim and background To evaluate the characteristics of a case-series of 79 malignant mesothelioma patients collected from the main teaching hospital of Rome, Italy, and other local clinics of Latium Region and to assess the role of asbestos exposure, since previous studies on the occurrence of the disease in this area were lacking. Methods The study included cytohistologically diagnosed malignant mesothelioma (71 pleural, 7 peritoneal, and 1 testicular tunica vaginalis) detected or referred for consultation during the period 1980-1995. Information regarding occupational and/or nonoccupational exposures was derived from clinical records and interviews, when available. Results Patients were resident in Rome and other towns of Latium; a few were from other parts of central and southern Italy. Exposure to asbestos was assessed for 45.5% of patients, another 45.5% had unknown exposure, and for the remaining 9% such information was lacking. Occupational exposure occurred in 53% of men for whom information was available and nonoccupational exposure occurred in 20% of women. The study identified two clusters of cases from an asbestos-cement plant and a facility where asbestos was ubiquitous. Furthermore, most exposed subjects reported occupations in the construction industry, which is particularly active in the Latium Region; others were railroad workers, naval mechanics and navy personnel, bakers, explosive workers and car mechanics. A few patients reported indoor exposure to asbestos at home and/or in the workplace. Conclusions The study confirmed that mesothelioma risk is present in several job titles of the construction industry, and it is no longer confined to workers employed in the manufacture or application of asbestos products. The occurrence of malignant mesothelioma in patients with unexpected occupational and nonoccupational exposures indicates the need for further investigation on previously underestimated exposures.