Malignant mesothelioma, a tumor of the pleura, pericardium, and peritoneum, is presently a worldwide problem. Current therapy is ineffective in slowing the course of the disease, and median survival from the time of diagnosis is rarely greater than 1 year. While the tumor was almost unknown prior to the second half of the twentieth century, it is presently responsible for more than 2000 deaths per year in the US alone. Mesothelioma is frequently associated with exposure to asbestos, but the incidence of cases involving individuals with low levels of asbestos exposure is increasing. For this reason, there has been much interest in studying whether there are alternative factors that act alone or in conjunction with asbestos in producing this malignancy. In the last decade, simian virus 40 (SV40) has become the most notable suspected agent.
Copyright 2001 Academic Press.