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History of Malignant Mesothelioma Cancer

The common consensus is that in 1767, Joseph Lieutaud, while conducting a study of 3,000 autopsies, was probably the first to recognize two cases of pleural tumors. Lieutaud believed that postmortem analysis held the key to understanding both normal anatomy and pathology, and so he looked for the correlation between the patients’ symptoms recorded during their lives and the physical lesions found on their corpses. The published report of those autopsies describe a boy who suffered from shortness of breath following a trauma, whose autopsy showed fleshy masses attached to his pleura.

Malignant Mesothelioma Cancer becomes Identified as a Unique Disease

However, malignant mesothelioma cancer didn’t gain recognition as a pathological entity until 1870 when E. Wagner described it as a primary malignancy of the pleura when it was discovered in a 69 year old female patient; he also made note of the tumor-filled lymph channels, giving rise to the idea that the tumor originated in the endothelium of the lymph vessels. In fact, the idea was so popular that the disease was named endothelioma.

The name hung on until 1931, when Paul Klemperer and Coleman Rabin published their study of five cases of the disease found in patients from Mount Sinai Hospital. These researchers believed the disease originated in the mesothelium, or lining, of the pleura and that the name should be changed to mesothelioma, as some other clinicians had already suggested.

The Cause of Malignant Mesothelioma Cancer is a Recent Discovery

The question as to the cause of malignant mesothelioma cancer wasn’t answered until 1960 when a study titled Diffuse pleural mesothelioma and asbestos exposure in the Northwestern Cape Provincewas published in the British Journal of Industrial Medicine. Lead Researcher J.C. Wagner and his colleagues studied 33 cases of mesothelioma that developed in residents between the ages of 31 and 68 years old in a mining community in Cape Province, South Africa. Some of these residents had occupational exposure to asbestos; however, the majority of them had substantial exposure because of their proximity to asbestos mines. The findings of this study were questioned by some pathologists because only four of the cases had autopsies. The remaining cases had pleural biopsies, which were not felt to be reliable when making a diagnosis of mesothelioma.

But the study did inspire other researchers to examine the link between asbestos exposure and malignant mesothelioma cancer.

The U.S. Government Takes Steps to Protect Workers from Malignant Mesothelioma Cancer

However, in spite of the agency’s efforts and the Environmental Protection Agency’s ban on asbestos product, exposure still continues in a number of industries. In addition, because mesothelioma is latent for 20 to 40 years, deaths from this disease will continue into the future.

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