A study by Italian researchers shows how tracking mesothelioma cases at a national level can help to measure the impact of asbestos exposure.
Unveiling the Toll of Asbestos Exposure
Mesothelioma is an aggressive type of cancer, and it is also rare. The cancer grows in the lining of internal organs like the lungs. It is hard to diagnose and treat, and the outlook for patients is usually poor.
Mesothelioma is caused by asbestos exposure. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that has been found throughout the world. It used to be widely used in construction and manufacturing before its toxic effects were discovered.
Many countries banned the use of asbestos, but other countries continue to use this dangerous material.
How Tracking Mesothelioma Cases Helps Protect Public Health
Italy banned the use of asbestos in 1992. Before the ban, Italy was one of the main producers of asbestos in Europe. In 2002, the country started a national database to track mesothelioma cases.
In this study, researchers wanted to look at the mortality rates of mesothelioma between 2010 and 2019. They calculated the rates of mesothelioma deaths for the whole country and for different regions and cities. They also looked at the differences between men and women and different age groups.
They found that there were 15,446 deaths from mesothelioma during the study period, with more deaths among men than women. Most of the deaths were from a type of mesothelioma called pleural mesothelioma.
They also found that the number of deaths among men has been slightly decreasing since 2014. The areas with the highest risk of mesothelioma were places where there were asbestos-cement plants, asbestos mines, shipyards, chemical plants, and refineries.
The tracking of mesothelioma cases has helped Italian officials to start public health programs to help people affected by asbestos exposure. This type of monitoring also helped the government to identify areas where asbestos could be removed from the environment.
The study researchers recommend that the country continues to remove asbestos from the environment. They also recommend that the government provide healthcare for victims of asbestos exposure.
Fazzo L, Minelli G, De Santis M, Ceccarelli E, Iavarone I, Zona A. The Epidemiological Surveillance of Mesothelioma Mortality in Italy as a Tool for the Prevention of Asbestos Exposure. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2023;20(11):5957. Published 2023 May 25. doi:10.3390/ijerph20115957. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10252364/