Study of ethmoidal mucosa in a population at occupational high risk of sinonasal adenocarcinoma

Acta Otolaryngol. 2002 Mar;122(2):197-201. doi: 10.1080/00016480252814225.


The occurrence of nasal adenocarcinomas was first described in 1965. Since 1988 these tumors have been accepted as an occupational disease for woodworkers in Italy. There are several underlying reasons why there is interest in studying the ways in which sinonasal adenocarcinomas occur. Often diagnosed at advanced stages of development because their symptoms are non-specific, these tumors are associated with a high mortality rate. A multidisciplinary study protocol was developed in this investigation. The aim was to identify the factors and conditions that promote sinonasal tumor growth in a population at risk due to occupational exposure to wood dust. Sixty-eight carpenters with a minimum of 10 years exposure to wood dust were studied. The control group comprised 81 volunteers. The patients underwent the following protocol: completion of a case report form, physical examination, evaluation of nasal cavity patency, clinical laboratory tests and histological study of the nasal mucosa. Our study provides significant evidence of the elevated incidence of pavimentous metaplasia in workers occupationally exposed to wood dust. In addition, it underscores a significant deficit of immunoglobulin A in such workers compared to the controls. However, we did not find, as reported elsewhere in the literature, a statistically significant difference between cases and controls as regards nasal symptoms and hyperemia of the nasal mucosa. Our study showed that, even in the absence of evident sinonasal lesions, it is still possible to determine an increased incidence of morphofunctional changes in subjects occupationally exposed to wood dust. Our findings may lead to the identification of occupational groups prone to elevated risk of the disease.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / etiology*
  • Adenocarcinoma / prevention & control
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Dust / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Metaplasia / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Nasal Cavity / pathology
  • Nasal Mucosa / pathology*
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / prevention & control
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects
  • Paranasal Sinus Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Paranasal Sinus Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Risk
  • Wood


  • Dust