Asbestos content of lung tissue and carcinoma of the lung: a clinicopathologic correlation and mineral fiber analysis of 234 cases.
The aim of this study was to investigate the asbestos content of lung tissue in a series of patients with lung cancer and some history of asbestos exposure. This information was then correlated with demographic information, occupational and smoking history, presence or absence of pathologic asbestosis or pleural plaques, and pathologic features of the cancer. The pulmonary concentration of asbestos fibers in 234 cases of primary carcinoma of the lung was determined by means of a tissue digestion technique. Asbestos body counts were performed in 229 cases and fiber analysis by scanning electron microscopy in 221 cases. Asbestos content was recorded as total asbestos fibers, commercial amphibole fibers, noncommercial amphibole fibers, and chrysotile fibers 5 microm or greater in length per gram of wet lung tissue. The study group included 70 patients with asbestosis (Group I), 44 patients with parietal pleural plaques but without asbestosis (Group II), and 120 patients with neither (Group III). The median asbestos body content of Group I was more than 35 times greater than Group II and more than 300 times greater than Group III. The total asbestos fiber count for Group I was nearly 20 times greater than Group II and more than 50 times greater than Group III. The difference was due almost entirely to commercial amphiboles. In a series of primary lung cancer cases with some history of asbestos exposure, a markedly elevated asbestos content was identified among those with pathologic asbestosis as compared with patients with pleural plaques alone or with neither plaques nor asbestosis.
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