mesothelioma is a primary tumor of the pleura, peritoneum,
pericardium, and other organs.
Mesothelioma has been such a rare disease, or one recognized so
infrequently, that it has not been coded as a separate cause of
death and has been seriously underestimated in mortality
statistics. But with nearly 14 cases
per million persons in the United States developing malignant
mesothelioma each year mesothelioma is no longer a rare disorder.
This means that nearly 3000 new cases occur annually in United
age-adjusted incidence of pleural and peritoneal
mesothelioma in the United States has been estimated at 14.2
per million per year, with almost a three-fold increase for
pleural mesothelioma in Caucasian males. In autopsy studies,
the frequency of malignant mesothelioma varies from 0.02 to
0.7%, with a rate of 0.2% in the largest series.
male-female ratio is about 4:1
arise from the pleura. The mean age of patients is
approximately 60 years, but the disease can occur at any
age, including in childhood.
unique feature of mesothelioma is its strong relationship
with asbestos exposure.
20% of patients have no demonstrable or anamnestic exposure
The role of various other
fibers, such as zeolites is speculated to play a role in
some cases of mesotheioma.
also strongly suggest a genetic susceptibility to
mesothelioma. Clusters of cases have been reported in some
families, often by household exposure to asbestos, and also
in identical twins but a clear genetic susceptibility has
not yet been established.