Author(s): Vorster, T., Mthombeni, J., teWaterNaude, J., Phillips, J.I.

Source: Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19, 14520.

Abstract: Asbestos mining operations have left South Africa with a legacy of asbestos contamination and asbestos-related diseases continue to be a problem. The large-scale mining of three types of asbestos presents a unique opportunity to study malignant mesothelioma of the pleura (mesothelioma) in South Africa. This study aimed to describe the demographics of deceased individuals diagnosed with mesothelioma and explore any associations between the histological morphology of mesothelioma and asbestos characteristics. We reviewed the records of all deceased miners and ex-miners from the Pathology Automation System (PATHAUT) database of the National Institute of Occupational Health (NIOH) that were histologically diagnosed with mesothelioma in the period from January 2006–December 2016 (11 years). The study population does not include all cases of mesothelioma in South Africa but rather those that reached the compensation system. Crocidolite asbestos fibres were identified in the majority of mesothelioma cases (n = 140; 53.4%). The epithelioid subtype was most commonly present in both occupational and environmental cases. Cases with the sarcomatous subtype were older at death and fewer female cases were diagnosed with this subtype. No relationship between mesothelioma subtype and asbestos type or asbestos burden or fibre size was established.

Keywords: mesothelioma; subtypes; PATHAUT; asbestos type; asbestos burden