OBJECTIVE--A significant twofold increased risk of lung cancer was found among 8000 men employed in the Danish asbestos cement industry between 1928 and 1984. The histological pattern of 104 lung cancer cases was studied with the aim of evaluating a relation between specific morphological types, duration of employment, and time since first employment. METHODS--Age, sex, and calendar time specific incidence of morphological subtypes of lung cancer (adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, anaplastic carcinoma, and unspecified malignant tumour) for all Danish men were computed from 1943 to 1984, from data routinely collected by the Danish Cancer Registry. Person-years of observation were counted from 15 years after the date of first employment until date of diagnosis of cancer, death, emigration, or the end of follow up on 31 December 1984. Expected numbers of cases were computed by applying person-years at risk to the appropriate incidence rates. Observed numbers were distributed accordingly and the relative risk calculated. RESULTS--The relative risk for adenocarcinoma was 3.31 (observed (O) 24, expected (E) 7.26), for squamous cell carcinoma 1.67 (O, 37, E, 22.12), for anaplastic carcinoma 1.58 (O, 23, E, 14.53), and for unspecified malignant tumour 1.57 (O, 18, E, 11.46). An increased risk by duration of employment and time since first employment was most pronounced for adenocarcinoma. CONCLUSION--The link between adenocarcinoma and asbestos was confirmed in this, the first study of risk of lung cancer by histological category based on incident cancer cases for a whole population during a 50 year period.
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