When Was Mesothelioma First Diagnosed?

by Treven Pyles on January 22, 2018

Mesothelioma is a highly aggressive cancer which is diagnosed in almost 3,000 Americans every year. Because it is so rare, it has been misdiagnosed for decades.

The first description of a mesothelioma tumor took place in the 18th century

The history of mesothelioma is complicated. Despite the excellent properties asbestos has - by virtue of which it later came to be known as the miracle mineral - people have been noticing that exposure to airborne fibers can be dangerous ever since ancient times. In his written accounts, Roman historian Pliny the Elder mentioned that the slaves who were working in asbestos mines suffered from lung disease. He also warned against buying these slaves, because they would die young. One of the reasons why mesothelioma has been so difficult to diagnose refers to its symptoms, which closely resemble those of tuberculosis and many other types of pulmonary disease.

According to medical records, the first mention of a tumor in the lungs was made in 1767 in France. Near the middle of the 19th century, Vienna professor Karl Freiherr von Rokitansky described several primary tumors of the peritoneum, which is most likely the first documented evidence of peritoneal mesothelioma. However, H.W. Wedler was the first to report a connection between asbestosis and mesothelioma amongst German workers in 1943. 20% of the workers had developed cancer and while Wedler's research was well-received in Nazi Germany, the rest of the world chose to ignore it due to the political climate of the time.

In 1909, J.G. Adami coined the term for this type of malignant tumors: mesothelioma. In 1931, Klemperer and Rabin established a scheme for diagnosing the illness and understanding its pathology. By this time, many doctors had begun engaging in research to determine the cause of mesothelioma and in 1935, London pathologist Steven Gloyne suggested a possible link between the disease and occupational asbestos exposure. Even though asbestos has been known to be dangerous since time immemorial, it was not until the '60s that three doctors from South Africa were truly able to confirm a connection between mesothelioma and asbestos, after many people living in the same area had died.

If you developed mesothelioma as a consequence of workplace asbestos exposure and would like to know more about your legal options, the attorneys at Environmental Litigation Group, P.C. are here to help you. Since 1990, we have been providing quality legal assistance to asbestos victims and their families, who can recover the compensation they deserve from asbestos trust funds. Please feel free to call us at 205.328.9200 and we will gladly assist you with filing a claim.