When was Mesothelioma First Diagnosed?


Anthophyllite Asbestos viewed by an Election Microscope

The history of Mesothelioma is complicated. Medicine struggled to establish its existence and understand what caused it. Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that forms on the “tissues that cover the lungs and abdomen.”[1] Mesothelioma is typically tied to the exposure of people to asbestos in either their environment or workplace.[2] If asbestos exposure leads to mesothelioma it is extraordinarily serious, because it is an incurable and typically fatal type of cancer.

Asbestos has been widely used by humans because it was extraordinary fire resistance and could be woven in fabrics. Unforunately, this has put humans into close contact with asbestos for over two millennia. Asbestos is comprised of fibrous silicates that are resistant “to thermal and chemical breakdown, tensile strength, and fibrous habit” that makes it possible to be “woven into textiles.” It is not clear when humans first began using asbestos, but it has been used for at 2000 years.[3]

While it took a long time for mesothelioma to be connected to asbestos exposure, it was well known that people could develop asbestosis. Asbestosis was caused by the scaring of the lungs by asbestos fibers. Asbestosis was caused by long-term exposure and while incurable it can in many cases be treated. Unlike mesothelioma, it was not necessarily fatal. Still in severe cases, patients may need lung transplants. Mesothelioma, on the other hand, is almost always fatal.[4]

Read the rest of the article at DailyHistory.org.  

Categories: History of Medicine

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