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Smoking-associated fibrosis and pulmonary asbestosis

Authors Bledsoe J, Christiani D, Kradin R

Received 20 September 2014

Accepted for publication 5 November 2014

Published 19 December 2014 Volume 2015:10(1) Pages 31—37

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/COPD.S74643

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Russell


Jacob R Bledsoe,1 David C Christiani,2 Richard L Kradin1,2

1Department of Pathology, 2Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA

Abstract: The diagnosis of pulmonary asbestosis is most often established based on clinical criteria and has both clinical and legal implications. Unfortunately, one of the confounding features in the diagnosis may be a history of cigarette abuse, which can produce interstitial opacities on chest imaging as well as diffusion defects on pulmonary function testing, criteria that are used in the diagnosis of pulmonary asbestosis. The objective of the present study was to evaluate the correlation of radiographically detected pulmonary fibrosis with fibrosis established histopathologically as attributable to asbestos, in a cohort referred for diagnosis of an asbestos-related malignancy in the context of litigation. We examined the slides of 186 cases with reported asbestos exposure, referred in consultation for asbestos-related malignancy and the presence of pulmonary fibrosis. Sixty-five cases had what was judged to be adequate tissue sampling for histopathologic evaluation of asbestosis as well as an existing radiologic assessment of pulmonary fibrosis by B-reader report. Of 24 cases judged to have asbestosis radiographically, which had sufficient tissue for pathologic examination, six showed asbestosis histopathologically. The remaining 18 cases (mean smoking history of 53 pack-years) showed interstitial fibrosis that was judged to be most consistent with smoking-associated pulmonary fibrosis. We conclude that the clinical diagnosis of mild asbestosis cannot be reliably distinguished from interstitial fibrosis in heavy smokers.

Keywords: asbestos, smoking, pulmonary fibrosis

A Letter to the Editor has been received and published for this article.

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