New Study Finds Occupation Unrelated to ‘Latency Period’ in Mesothelioma, According to Surviving Mesothelioma

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A recent study conducted in the UK and published in the British Journal of Cancer finds that occupation does not appear to influence how long it takes to develop deadly mesothelioma.

This study did not find sufficient evidence that greater intensity asbestos exposures would lead to shorter mesothelioma latencies.

According to a new British study detailed by Surviving Mesothelioma, latency in malignant mesothelioma does not appear to be related to which asbestos-exposing job a person held.

The goal of the new study, published recently in the British Journal of Cancer, was to determine whether there are any factors that could influence the mesothelioma latency period, the lag time between exposure to asbestos and development of the asbestos-related malignancy. Latency in mesothelioma is much longer than it is in other types of cancer, due to the body's inability to rid itself of the irritating fibers. Mesothelioma can sometimes take decades to develop.

Taken from The Great Britain Asbestos Survey, a cohort of British asbestos workers, the analysis included 614 cases of mesothelioma deaths between 1978 and 2005. Because mesothelioma diagnosis can happen at different stages, for the study purposes, “latency period” was defined as the time between first exposure to asbestos and death from mesothelioma.

Researchers compared the latency periods in each case to the worker’s gender, occupation, intensity of exposure, and the presence of asbestosis (another asbestos-related disease). The median latency period among all workers in the study was 22.8 years. Women subjects experienced an average latency period that was about 29% longer than that of the male study subjects. People with asbestosis tended to have latency periods that were 5% shorter than the average for the group. Neither occupation nor intensity of asbestos exposure appeared to impact latency.

“This study did not find sufficient evidence that greater intensity asbestos exposures would lead to shorter mesothelioma latencies,” write the authors. Although the average latency in the study was 22.8 years, cases of 40- and even 50-year mesothelioma latency have been documented. Most workers who develop mesothelioma were exposed to asbestos for many years, but cases of mesothelioma have occurred after much briefer exposure.

The original study appears in a recent issue of The British Journal of Cancer. (Frost, G, “The latency period of mesothelioma among a cohort of British asbestos workers (1978-2005)”, August 29, 2013, British Journal of Cancer, Epub ahead of print.

For nearly ten years, Surviving Mesothelioma has brought readers the most important and ground-breaking news on the causes, diagnosis and treatment of mesothelioma. All Surviving Mesothelioma news is gathered and reported directly from the peer-reviewed medical literature. Written for patients and their loved ones, Surviving Mesothelioma news helps families make more informed decisions.

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Michael Ellis
Cancer Monthy
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