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Malignant pleural mesothelioma presenting as spontaneous pneumothorax: a case series and review

BACKGROUND: Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is thought to arise from the mesothelial cell types that line the pleural cavities. The symptoms that most patients initially experience include the insidious onset of chest pain or shortness of breath, and it rarely presents as spontaneous pneumothorax.

CASE REPORTS: We report four patients who presented in this manner. Three of the patients were exposed to asbestos directly or indirectly at shipyards during World War II; the fourth was exposed as an insulator's wife. Two of our cases were not recognized to have MPM on histologic examination at first thoracotomy and remained asymptomatic for 12 and 22 months, respectively. In none of the patients described herein, was spontaneous pneumothorax the cause of death.

CONCLUSIONS: Since many people were exposed to asbestos during and after World War II, spontaneous pneumothorax in a patient with the possibility of such exposure should raise the suspicion of malignant pleural mesothelioma. Copyright 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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PMID: 10893511, UI: 20353678
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