Mesothelioma is a most lethal cancer. It has unusual characteristics. The more I look at it the more I am convinced it does not behave like a true solid tissue cancer.
o Serosal membranes very rarely become malignant except with Mesothelioma.
o It is not asbestos fiber dose dependent.
o It is not cigarette smoking dose related.
o Probably occurs only in cases where there was prior evidence of a pleurisy (benign) usually with evidence of pleural thickening.
o Latency is different (usually longer) than any other known malignancy.
o 275 day median survival is more in keeping with an uncontrollable infection (all be it a malignant one) than a solid tumor growth pattern.
o Simian 40 virus DNA parts have been found in mesothelioma specimens.
o Rarely if ever found as a distant metastasis (e.g. brain or liver spread).
I believe it is a viral infection gone malignant e.g. HIV type malignant behavior so that it looks more like asbestos fiber activation of a common virus infection in turn causing a variety of clinical conditions. Many of these clinical conditions can be quite innocuous. In benign pleural effusions we don’t find a pleural cavity full of asbestos needles – It would appear we haven’t been culturing for the right agent.
If Mesothelioma is a rogue viral infection – then there is the possibility of developing a vaccine and offering vaccination to asbestos exposed people who are at heightened risk of developing future asbestos related malignancies.
Q: Is asbestos a co-carcinogen to a viral infection?
A: Needs to be studied…