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Could Asbestos Play a Role in Kidney Cancer as Well as Mesothelioma?

24174143_asbestos3New facts are emerging about the potential role of asbestos, the primary cause of malignant mesothelioma, in the development of kidney cancer.

Doctors in Italy have just published the case report of a man who developed kidney cancer after 7 years of asbestos exposure. Just a year later, he also developed the cancer most closely associated with asbestos: malignant mesothelioma.

Asbestos and Mesothelioma Development

Before the mineral asbestos was linked to pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma, it was a popular additive to a wide variety of building materials and consumer products.

Decades later, thousands of people who mined asbestos, as well as those who manufactured, handled, installed, or otherwise came into contact with asbestos-containing products developed a hard-to-treat membrane cancer called mesothelioma.

Although the mechanism by which asbestos can trigger mesothelioma is still not fully understood, scientists do know that the mineral fibers stay in the body after they are ingested or inhaled causing long-term irritation and inflammation at the cellular level.

Mesothelioma is Not the Only Risk

Unfortunately, a mesothelioma diagnosis is not the only risk of asbestos exposure. Asbestos has been linked to a life-threatening lung condition called asbestosis, to pleural plaques, and to lung cancer. The World Health Organization estimates that asbestos causes as many as half of all work-related cancer deaths.

Now, a new case report published by occupational medicine specialists at the Scientific Institute of Pavia says asbestos may also be linked to renal cell carcinoma, the most common form of kidney cancer.

Writing in an Italian medical journal, the authors describe how a 76-year-old man who had worked with asbestos cement for 7 years was diagnosed with kidney cancer after he began to experience pain in his left flank. The patient had the affected kidney removed.

But just fourteen months later, two month after being hospitalized with abdominal pain, the patient died of biphasic peritoneal mesothelioma. Now, doctors are wondering if the two cancers could be related.

“This is the second reported case of association between renal cell carcinoma and peritoneal mesothelioma in the scientific literature,” writes lead author Stefano Candura. “Asbestos might be involved in the causation of both malignancies.”

Protection is the Only Mesothelioma Prevention

So far, no one has found a way to prevent the development of mesothelioma or any other health problem after asbestos exposure has occurred.

The best protection against deadly mesothelioma, kidney cancer, lung cancer, or any other illness that might be related to asbestos is to avoid all contact with the material.

People whose jobs required them to work around asbestos should be carefully trained to follow strict handling guidelines and supplied with special protective gear, including negative pressure respirators.


Candura, SM, et al, “Renal cell carcinoma and malignant peritoneal mesothelioma after occupational asbestos exposure: case report”, May 26, 2016, La Medicina Del Lavoro

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