Links Between Asbestos Exposure and Kidney Cancer
Until recently, little documentation existed on kidney cancer cases directly related to asbestos exposure.
That changed in 2016 after an Italian scientific journal called La Medicina del Lavoro published an article where a senior man passed away from cancer after having a prolonged asbestos exposure while employed decades earlier cutting asbestos cement panels. There was something different about the Italian case.
Although this particular man’s fatal cancer couldn’t be conclusively linked to asbestos exposure, an operation he had fourteen months earlier could. He’d been diagnosed with cancer in one kidney and had it surgically removed.
The organ was dissected at the time and histology showed it was contaminated with asbestos fibers. There seemed no doubt internal exposure to asbestos fibers caused this cancer.
Since this Italian report, other cases surfaced linking kidney cancer to asbestos exposure. One was a 2007 Japanese case noting the relationship between asbestos and renal cell carcinoma.
Something consistent between the Italian and Japanese reports was that these victims did not develop asbestos-related kidney cancer as the result of cancer metastasizing from other asbestos-caused cancers. They eliminated pleural, pericardial and peritoneal mesothelioma that is solely due to prolonged asbestos inhalation or ingestion.
Peritoneal mesothelioma relates to the abdomen lining. Asbestos fibers attack the membrane or mesothelium surrounding the lower thoracic or abdominal organs.
Kidneys are within this membrane boundary were not associated with asbestos fibers. Some kidney cancers were thought to have metastasized or resulted from peritoneal mesothelioma spreading in the abdomen.
Now, physicians and medical researchers are looking deeper into how asbestos exposure directly causes kidney cancer. It might also be a type of mesothelioma where asbestos fibers embedded in the kidney’s epithelial cells which is the organ’s lining.
Although epithelial cell cancer is the most common form of renal carcinoma, it’s extremely rare for asbestos fibers to be inside the kidneys. The mystery was in how they got there.