Mesothelioma is a rare and fatal form of cancer that has long been associated with male-dominated occupations: factory workers, construction workers, shipyard workers are among those who have most frequently been diagnosed with the disease.
As more is learned about the condition and more victims are identified, it is becoming increasingly clear that asbestos was used in far more work settings than originally realized. The latest job to be cited as at risk for the disease is dental technician — as it turns out, asbestos was even used in the creation of dental prostheses.
This latest addition to the list of professionals at risk for mesothelioma comes from the release of an Italian study that identified four dental laboratory technicians, as well as the spouse of a technician, all of whom were diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma.
A closer examination of the contributing factors in each of these patients’ history shows that asbestos was a component in both the lining material used in the casts used to create prostheses and in the dressings used during the treatment of patients.
Since asbestos breaks down easily, scientists surmise that minute fibers of the material were inhaled or ingested by the techs while they were working with the material.
According to lead author Carolina Mens, BSc, PhD of the Department of Preventive Medicine at Fondazione IRCCS Ca’ Granda-Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, the patients who were identified had a varied history of exposure to the material, with one only working with asbestos for four years and another working with it for as long as 34 years.
She writes, “We confirm the association of malignant mesothelioma with dental technician work. Dental technicians suffering from mesothelioma shou Though the dental industry has not been on the list of occupations that physicians have viewed as at risk for mesothelioma, this latest report, which was published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, will likely change that.
It is also possible that patients whose mesothelioma was previously classified as “of unknown origin” may get a closer look, particularly if the patient has worked in the dental profession.
Mesothelioma remains a mysterious disease, and the medical community continues to learn more about it with each passing day. If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma and you need the most updated information available, the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net can help.
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