The association between asbestos and mesothelioma is well established, and a definite history of exposure is present in 70-75% of cases. Occupational exposure to asbestos in mines, mills, industry, mining, plumbing, insulating, construction, and among longshoremen and shipyard workers should be documented for medicolegal and workers' compensation purposes. Clinicians considering the diagnosis of mesothelioma should take a detailed exposure history, emphasizing the period between 20-50 years before diagnosis and including possible household contact exposure. Brief exposures may be long forgotten.
Since the early 1970's, legislation has decreased contamination of the environment by asbestos. The presence of asbestos fibres in the lungs of members of the general population suggests that exposure may occur unknowingly.
Committee on Asbestos: Selected Health Effects. Asbestos: Selected Cancers. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2006.
McDonald AD, McDonald JC. Epidemiology of malignant mesothelioma. In: Antman K, Aisner J, eds. Asbestos-related malignancy. Orlando: Grune & Stratton, 1987:31-55.