Mesothelioma and Crohn’s Disease – A Possible Link
Peritoneal mesothelioma is an incredibly rare cancer that makes up about 30% of all mesothelioma cases. This type of mesothelioma affects the peritoneum, which is a protective membrane that surrounds the abdomen and allows the surrounding organs to expand and contract easily. When asbestos fibers become ingested or inhaled, the lining of the abdomen could be embedded with millions of tiny, sharp, needle-like fibers that can turn healthy cells into cancerous ones as the cells become inflamed. The inflammation of the abdominal area is what led scientists and researchers to study the link between mesothelioma and Crohn’s disease: a chronic inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract. While the study did not reveal the “precise” role that Crohn’s disease plays in this, it is true that peritoneal mesothelioma and Crohn’s disease do share that common inflammatory characteristic.
What is Crohn’s Disease?
Crohn’s disease is a chronic condition where the digestive system is inflamed. It can affect any part of your gastrointestinal tract – from the mouth, to the anus. Those who are diagnosed with Crohn’s disease experience a range of symptoms such as abdominal cramps and pain, persistent diarrhea, rectal bleeding, sensation of incomplete evacuation, and constipation. It is unclear what specifically causes Crohn’s disease, which is typically diagnosed in young adults between the ages of 15 and 35. Researchers and scientists can only speculate the cause: genetics, hereditary, and/or environmental factors.
What is the connection between mesothelioma and Crohn’s disease?
As mentioned earlier, those who suffer from peritoneal mesothelioma and those who suffer from Crohn’s disease suffer from an inflammation in the abdomen. Scientists and researchers conducted a study that looked at 3,800 mesothelioma cases, to try and find patients that had Crohn’s disease as well. The results, while small, showed that two patients had epithelial malignant mesothelioma and one patient had biphasic malignant mesothelioma. This study published in the Journal of Clinical Pathology notes that there is an association between chronic inflammation and the development of malignant mesothelioma; however, instances are rare and the exact role that Crohn’s disease has in regards to peritoneal mesothelioma requires more research and testing.
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Alex Strauss, “Mesothelioma Risk and Crohn’s Disease: Is There a Link?” Surviving Mesothelioma (August 5, 2016) [Link]
Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America, “What is Crohn’s Disease?” [Link]
Butnor KJ, Pavisko EN, Sporn TA &, Roggli VL, “Malignant Peritoneal Mesothelioma and Crohn Disease,” Journal of Clinical Pathology (August 2, 2016) [Link]