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International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health Features Discovery of Asbestos-Related Pain Origin from Scientists at the Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit
Date:7/19/2009

on, pulmonary function studies, epidemiology and history of the patient's intractable pleural pain meets the criteria for diagnosis of asbestosis. Combined with the known science of taconite dust, a link between the mine where the patient's father worked and the patient's disease was established.
  • Due to the clarity and definition of this new imaging approach, it is more likely to detect asbestos-related diseases and cancer at an earlier stage.
  • Earlier detection will allow the possibility for additional treatment options to manage the pain caused by pleural plaque beyond the narcotics often prescribed for patients with advanced stages of asbestos disease. This includes exploring other forms of traditional and nontraditional methods to control pain.
  • The patient, studied since 2004 and currently 55 years of age, was exposed as a child to taconite dust unknowingly by her father, a taconite miner from 1962 - 1969, who carried the taconite dust on his work clothes. Taconite is used in the production of steel and road-patching material. It has been mined in Michigan and Minnesota.

    The patient has experienced increasing pain on her right side for the past 31 years, a persistent cough and wheezing. As the pain increased so did her medication. Using the new imaging approach, Dr. Harbut was able to show the progression of the patient's pleural plaque over a three year period, from 2005 - 2008. The patient's pleuritic pain, as well as the findings of her pulmonary function, physical exam and symptomology are consistent with those diagnosed with asbestosis and pleural plaques, as established by the American Thoracic Society.

    These findings also support earlier human and animal reports that dusts produced by taconite mining can evoke the same biological responses as do other fibers already defined as asbestos or asbestiform materials.

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    SOURCE Karmanos Cancer Institute
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