Giornale Italiano di Medicina del Lavoro ed Ergonomia. 2007 Jul-Sep;29(3 Suppl):346-8. [Link]

Adesi FB, Ferrante D, Bertolotti M, Todesco A, Mirabelli D, Terracini B, Magnani C.

SCDU Epidemiologia dei Tumori, Università di Torino, Via Santena 7, 10126, Torino, Italia.


The multistage theory of carcinogenesis assumes rates of mesothelioma increasing monotonically as a function of time since first exposure (TSFE) to asbestos. However, some authors have suggested that the increase in mesothelioma rate with TSFE might be attenuated by clearance of asbestos from the lungs. We estimated mortality time trends from pleural and peritoneal cancer in a cohort of 3443 asbestos-cement workers. The role of asbestos clearance was explored using the traditional mesothelioma multistage model, generalized to include a term representing elimination over time. We observed 139 deaths from pleural and 56 from peritoneal cancer during the period 1950-2003. The rate of pleural cancer increased during the first 40 years of TSFE and reached a plateau thereafter. In contrast, the rate of peritoneal cancer increased monotonically with TSFE. The model allowing for asbestos elimination fitted the data better than the traditional model for pleural (p = 0.02) but not for peritoneal cancer (p = 0.22). The risk for pleural cancer, rather than showing an indefinite increase, might reach a plateau when a sufficiently long time has elapsed since exposure. The different trends for pleural and peritoneal cancer might be related to clearance of the asbestos from the workers’ lungs.