Ffty cases of malignant pleural mesothelioma (47 men and 3 women) have been diagnosed during the period 1966-76 in Barrow-in-Furness, all of them histologically proved and accepted by the Pneumoconiosis Panel. At the time of writing only three survive. There was a history of industrial exposure to asbestos in all 47 men, who had worked in various trades in the shipyard, as had one of the women. One of the women was married to a shipyard plumber, who may have brought home asbestos dust on his clothes. Only one patient, a housewife, aged 28 at diagnosis, had no known asbestos contact. The asbestos content of the lungs has been measured in the last 20 cases, in 18 of whom it was found to be substantially greater than the accepted levels for the general population. In a small number studied by electron microscopy, the predominant fibre was crocidolite. A positive histological diagnosis was achieved in 39 subjects during life in the expectation of securing industrial compensation, but, in spite of this, less than half of the dependants are currently receiving payments. Metastases, though never clinically apparent, were frequent at necropsy.
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