Malignant pleural mesothelioma is an uncommon tumor; only about 3000 cases are diagnosed annually in the United States. Cases were described early in the 20th century, but their relationship to asbestos exposure was not documented until 1960. Since then, the incidence has appeared to increase, and numerous epidemiologic studies have confirmed that exposure to asbestos in a variety of settings and occupations is the most significant risk factor for the development of malignant pleural mesothelioma. More recently, the oncogenic virus SV40 has also been implicated as a potential etiologic agent. Surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy have each been used in the treatment of mesothelioma, but generally with little impact on survival. New directions in therapy include aggressive multimodality programs for potentially resectable patients and targeted therapies, including antifolates, antiangiogenesis agents, and drugs directed at epidermal growth factor receptor for the majority of patients presenting with unresectable disease.
- Malignant pleural mesothelioma
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