Friday, July 14, 2023

History and discovery of Malignant Mesothelioma

Malignant Mesothelioma (MM) is a rare, aggressive tumor that primarily affects the pleura and peritoneum, and it is known to have a high fatality rate. Despite its infrequency, research on mesothelioma traces back to the 18th century.

However, as early as 1767, Joseph Lieutaud, a distinguished French pioneer in pathologic anatomy, documented two potential cases of mesothelioma during a study involving 3,000 autopsies. Subsequently, in 1870, E. Wagner identified this disease as a distinct pathological condition.

In 1819, Dr. Rene Theophile Hyacinthe Laennec, a French physician, proposed the hypothesis that pleural tumors could be malignant. Later, Professor Karl Freiherr von Rokitansky postulated that pleural cancer was always a secondary condition, originating from primary cancers elsewhere in the body.

During the early 1900s, the medical community gradually accepted the possibility of cancer originating in the pleura. In 1909, J.G. Adami introduced the term "mesothelioma" to classify this rare cancer.

In 1931, Klemperer and Rabin provided a detailed description of the histologic characteristics of benign (localized) and malignant (diffuse) mesotheliomas. However, a case report discussing malignant pleural mesothelioma in 1947 failed to prompt the recognition of the diagnosis or raise suspicions of asbestos as a causative factor, despite mentioning the patient's occupation as an "asbestos worker" in the opening statement and describing their work involving "cutting asbestos insulating board."

The association between mesothelioma and asbestos was not established until the 1940s when researcher H.W. Wedler reported a correlation between asbestosis and pleural cancer in 1943.

In 1964, Dr. Irving J. Selikoff presented findings indicating that members of asbestos workers' unions in the New York area exhibited a higher-than-expected mortality rate from lung and pleural cancers.
History and discovery of Malignant Mesothelioma

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