The ticking time-bomb of asbestos: its insidious role in the development of malignant mesothelioma

Crit Rev Oncol Hematol. 2012 Nov;84(2):200-12. doi: 10.1016/j.critrevonc.2012.03.001. Epub 2012 Mar 27.


The relationship between asbestos exposure and malignant mesothelioma (MM) has been well established. Despite bans on asbestos use in an increasing number of nations, the prolonged latency from exposure to diagnosis, and the ongoing presence and use of these dangerous fibres, have led to the increasing prevalence of this deadly disease worldwide. Whilst occupational contact has been implicated in the bulk of diagnosed cases over the past 50 years, a significant proportion of disease has been linked to para-occupational, domestic and environmental exposure. In this review, we will provide an update on the impact of historical and ongoing asbestos contact in both occupational and non-occupational settings. Furthermore, we will address the unresolved controversies surrounding the use of chrysotile asbestos, the effect of gender and genetics on development of this disease, childhood mesothelioma and co-aetiological factors including SV40 exposure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Asbestos / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mesothelioma / etiology*
  • Occupational Exposure


  • Asbestos