The relationships between benign asbestos-related diseases (asbestosis and pleural plaques) and thoracic cancers are still debated. The aim of this paper was to review the epidemiological data relevant to this issue.
Published studies show a significant relationship between occupational exposure to asbestos and lung cancer risk, even in the absence of abnormalities consistent with asbestosis on the postero-anterior chest x-ray. For a given cumulative asbestos exposure, the presence of radiographic evidence of asbestosis is associated with an increased risk of lung cancer. Among asbestos-exposed individuals, those having radiographic evidence of pleural plaques are at increased risk for lung cancer and pleural mesothelioma, compared to the general population. However, there is no evidence that pleural plaque confers an increased risk of lung cancer or pleural mesothelioma within a population of individuals having the same cumulative asbestos exposure.
The studies identified for this review relied only on chest radiograph data. Studies involving accurate evaluations of asbestos exposure and computed tomography of the chest are needed.
Currently available data indicate that patient follow-up modalities should be dictated solely by the estimated cumulative asbestos exposure and not by the existence of pleural plaques.Le texte complet de cet article est disponible en PDF.
Keywords : Asbestos, Pleural plaque, Lung cancer, Mesothelioma, Patient follow-up