This study was undertaken to determine the relation between radiographic and histological manifestations of pulmonary asbestosis (interstitial fibrosis) in insulation workers who had died of lung cancer. Of 450 confirmed deaths from lung cancer a chest radiograph suitable for determining evidence of pneumoconiosis was obtained in 219. Of these cases, 138 also had a tissue specimen submitted that was suitable for histological study to determine the extent of histological fibrosis. There was a significant albeit limited correlation between the radiographic and histological findings (r = 0.27, p less than 0.0013). All 138 cases had histological evidence of parenchymal fibrosis; in 25 (18%), however, there was no radiographic evidence of parenchymal fibrosis. In 10 cases (7%) both parenchymal and pleural disease were undetectable on the radiograph. Thus a negative chest radiograph does not exclude the presence of interstitial fibrosis (asbestosis) in a substantial proportion of insulation workers previously exposed to asbestos who develop lung cancer.
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