Jennifer Hague and YC Gary Lee look at the rising incidence in the United Kingdom
- By: Jennifer Hague, Y C Gary Lee
Mesothelioma is a malignant tumour, usually of the pleura, although less commonly it occurs in the peritoneum or other organs. It has an extremely poor prognosis, and the average survival time from diagnosis is only a year.1 Although the pathology and cause of the disease are poorly understood, evidence of asbestos exposure is found in at least 90% of cases of mesothelioma.2 Risk is also greater in people who have been exposed to asbestos from an early age and for a long period of time.
Death from mesothelioma is therefore an index of past exposure to asbestos in the population. Until the early 20th century asbestos was not used much, but during the first and second world wars mining of asbestos increased substantially worldwide to provide combat equipment and a cheap material for building.
In 1930 Merewether and Price at the London Chest Hospital were the first to determine a