asbestos, tumours, bile ducts
Aims. Exposure to asbestos represents an important risk factor for the onset of pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma. An association with gastrointestinal and bile duct adenocarcinoma may also be possible. Patients and methods. In 2007, 55 patients with bile duct neoplasm who were admitted to our centre were investigated extensively about their exposure to known risk factors for their pathology and about exposure to asbestos. For each patient their medical history, their past, recent and current pathology was collected in detail. Information on the workplace and characteristics of their working environment, job description, use and frequency of direct and indirect exposure to asbestos, sources of non-occupational exposure, residential and daily life background was collected. Exposure to asbestos is considered significant only in cases where the latency period is equal to or longer than ten years. Results. From the medical history of the 55 cases, it emerged that 18 had been exposed to asbestos. In 3 cases the patients had been exposed by inhalation in a workplace setting, while in the other 15 cases an exposure linked to a presumable ingestion of asbestos fibres contained in the water collected in domestic asbestos-cement water tanks was postulated. Conclusions. A weak association between tumours of the bile ducts and exposure to asbestos has already been postulated in the past on the basis of studies conducted on cohorts of workers exposed to asbestos. Our analysis also indicates a possible association between exposure to asbestos and neoplasms of the biliary ducts.