Adenocarcinoma of ethmoid sinus: an occupational disease.

G. Bimbi, M. Squadrelli Saraceno, S. Riccio, G. Gatta, L. Licitra, G. Cantù

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Sinonasal tumours, particularly those of ethmoidal origin, are rare neoplasms, of which adenocarcinoma is the most frequent histotype in Europe. The association between sinonasal malignancies and exposure to wood or leather dusts has been widely documented, however, the precise tumour site and histology has seldom been reported. In the present study, exposure to wood or leather dusts was investigated in 499 patients diagnosed with sinonasal tumours, who were treated at the Head and Neck Surgery Department of the National Cancer Institute of Milan, Italy, between 1987 and 2001. The original tumour site and histology were carefully assessed. Of the 499 patients evaluated, 249 had ethmoidal tumours; 124 of which adenocarcinomas, affecting 115 males; 9 females. Of the males with adenocarcinoma, 90.4% had been exposed to wood or leather dusts; 16.3% of these had only been exposed for a short time and long before onset of the disease (median exposure 11 years; median latency 31 years). Of the remaining 125 patients with ethmoidal tumours other than adenocarcinomas, only 2 (1.6%) had ever been exposed to these dusts. Non-ethmoidal sinonasal tumours were seen in 250 cases; 17 of these (6.8%) were adenocarcinomas; no exposure to wood or leather dusts was reported in any of these patients. Ethmoid proved to be the sinonasal site affected by adenocarcinomas induced by exposure to wood or leather dusts. Even brief exposure, which may have occurred a very long time before onset of the disease, seems to be sufficient to increase the incidence of this tumour type. No significant correlation was observed between exposure and either non-ethmoidal sinonasal neoplasms or ethmoidal tumours other than adenocarcinomas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-203
Number of pages5
JournalActa Otorhinolaryngologica Italica
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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