The role of analytical SEM in the determination of causation in malignant mesothelioma.
The causative relationship between asbestos exposure and mesothelioma is firmly established. Some information in this regard comes from analysis of the fiber content of lung tissue by means of analytical electron microscopy. The author has had the opportunity to study the lung asbestos content of 396 cases of mesothelioma, including 28 peritoneal cases, by means of analytical scanning electron microscopy. The highest fiber levels occurred in patients who also had asbestosis, which was found in 12% of pleural and 43% of peritoneal cases. Elevated tissue asbestos content was identified in 87% of pleural and 75% of peritoneal cases. Peritoneal cases that are asbestos related have on average a higher lung fiber burden than pleural cases. Mesotheliomas in women have elevated tissue asbestos content in about 60% of cases, and many of these had a history of exposure as a household contact of an asbestos worker. The main fiber type identified in our series was amphibole, predominantly amosite. These fibers have been demonstrated to reach the target tissue, the pleura.
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