Recent discovery of an old disease: Malignant pleural mesothelioma in a village in south-east Turkey

Respirology. 2007 May;12(3):448-51 [Link]

Osman E, Hasan B, Meral U, Ercan A, Mehmet T, Nazan B, Ayhan O, Erhan E, Oner D.

Department of Pulmonary Diseases, Gaziantep University, Gaziantep, Turkey.


Background and objective: Environmental asbestos exposure is reportedly common in some districts of Turkey. The aim of this study was to investigate the presence and effect of environmental asbestos exposure in a village in Gaziantep, Turkey, with reported cases of mesothelioma.

Methods: All villagers ≥14 years old were subject to an interview rediagnosis and a detailed questionnaire. Chest microfilms were performed in all cases, and additional standard CXRs were obtained when necessary. Samples collected from the natural mantle, and whitewash from the houses were analysed for the presence of asbestos.

Results: In total, 269 villagers took part in the study. The incidence of histopathologically diagnosed malignant pleural mesothelioma was 0.32% relative to the total village population in the year 2000. The verbal autopsy revealed eight possible cases of malignant pleural mesothelioma, all of whom had died within the past 12 years. Of these eight, there was a first-degree kinship between three, and additionally, these patients had a third-degree relationship with a biopsy proven case. Radiological evaluation showed pleural calcification and/or thickness in 3.3%, and pleural effusion in 0.4% of patients undergoing CXR. All houses in the village were constructed using adobe soil, and the interior whitewash was made from soil containing asbestos. Analysis of soil samples revealed tremolite and/or actinolyte asbestos.

Conclusion: The current findings suggest that environmental asbestos exposure continue to be a serious health concern in the Gaziantep region of Turkey.