Statistics only show part of the devastation that mesothelioma has on patients and their loved ones. The fact is, this deadly cancer affects thousands of people each year, both in the United States and throughout the world.
Many families rely on statistics about mesothelioma and asbestos to make informed personal medical and legal decisions. This page provides the most current information available, culled from authoritative government agencies, medical publications, and nonprofit organizations.
Mesothelioma in the United States
Over a 40-year period from 1973 – 2013, the survival rate for mesothelioma has remained steady, with only about 7-9 percent of mesothelioma patients living five years or longer.
Approximately 3,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year. On average, about 2,500 mesothelioma-related deaths occur in the U.S. each year. Between 1999 and 2010, more than 31,000 people in the U.S. died due to mesothelioma.
About 14 out of every 1 million people in the United States die from Mesothelioma. The average age at diagnosis of mesothelioma is 75 for males and 72 for females
From 2001 to 2010, the 5 states with the highest number of mesothelioma deaths were:
- California: 2,637
- Florida: 1,713
- Pennsylvania: 1,711
- New York: 1,443
- Texas: 1,307
Mesothelioma mortality is 2 – 4 times higher in port cities and parts of “Rust Belt” states!
At Risk to Develop Mesothelioma?
Approximately 80% of mesothelioma cases can be attributed to asbestos exposure. Other potential risk factors include zeolites and radiation exposure.
An estimated 20 million people in the U.S. are at risk of developing mesothelioma at some point in their lives.
The latency period between first exposure to asbestos and developing mesothelioma is typically between 20 and 40 years.
Age, Gender and Survival Rates of Mesothelioma Victims
The average average life expectancy for a mesothelioma patient is 12 – 21 months after diagnosis. However, between 5% and 10% of mesothelioma survivors live for at least five years after diagnosis.
91% of people diagnosed with mesothelioma are 55 or older and nearly five times more men develop mesothelioma than women.
Early detection is important, as there is a strong correlation between the age at which mesothelioma diagnosis occurs and survival:
Mesothelioma Survival by Stage at Diagnosis
People who are diagnosed with mesothelioma live between 12 and 21 months on average.
The average length of survival corresponds to the stage at which mesothelioma is diagnosed:
Types of Mesothelioma
There are three primary types of mesothelioma:
- Pleural mesothelioma (lungs): 75% – 80% of all cases
- Peritoneal mesothelioma (abdomen): 20% - 25% of all cases
- Pericardial mesothelioma (heart): less than 1% of all cases
There are also different mesothelioma cell types that exist:
- 50% – 60% are epithelioid
- 10% – 20% are sarcomatoid (fibrous)
- 30% – 40% are mixed (biphasic)
About 1 in 10 tumors that form in the pleura surrounding the lungs are cancerous and develop into malignant mesothelioma. The rest are benign.
Global Mesothelioma Impact
It is estimated that as many as 43,000 people around the world die annually from mesothelioma.
The highest rates of mesothelioma occur in Australia, Belgium, and Great Britain, with an average of 30 cases per million people.
Through 2020, the rate of death for malignant mesothelioma in developed countries is expected to increase by 5 – 10% annually.
The highest rates of incidence for mesothelioma occur in the Genoa Province of Italy, West Cape of Australia, and Northern Yorkshire area of the United Kingdom. However, mesothelioma was not included in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) until the tenth revision, and many countries do not consistently report mesothelioma statistics. It is possible that there are much higher rates of incidence in Asia, Africa, and South America than is currently realized.
Resources for Mesothelioma Patients and Their Families
- Request a Free Mesothelioma Treatment Guide
- Connect with Top Mesothelioma Doctors
- Locate the Nearest Comprehensive Cancer Center
Asbestos is banned in at least 60 countries around the world. Although some of these bans are partial or allow exceptions, most are complete bans on the importation and manufacture of asbestos.
EU Countries (full ban)
- Czech Republic
- United Kingdom
Other Countries (full ban, unless noted)
- Argentina (chrysolite, amphiboles)
- China (partial)
- Hong Kong
- Honduras (partial)
- Malaysia (partial)
- Moldova (partial)
- Morocco (amphiboles)
- New Caledonia
- New Zealand
- Oman (amosite, crocidolite, chrysotile)
- Saudi Arabia
- South Africa
- South Korea
- Sri Lanka
- Thailand (partial)
- Switzerland (crocidolite, amosite, and chrysotile)
Countries Expected to Ban Asbestos Completely by 2020
Learn About Your Rights
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and were exposed to asbestos, click on the image below to learn more about you rights.
Author: Linda Molinari
Editor in Chief, Mesothelioma Cancer AllianceRead about Linda
Reviewer: Annette Charlevois
Patient Support CoordinatorRead about Annette
American Cancer Society. What Are the Key Statistics About Malignant Mesothelioma? Published May 18, 2015. Updated February 17, 2016. Accessed February 3, 2017.
The Worldwide Pandemic of Asbestos-Related Diseases (http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev-publhealth-031811-124704)
Malignant mesothelioma: facts, myths, and hypotheses http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21412769
CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/wk/mm5815.pdf)
American Society of Clinical Oncology - Mesothelioma: Statistics (http://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/mesothelioma/statistics)
American Cancer Society - Survival statistics for mesothelioma (http://www.cancer.org/cancer/malignantmesothelioma/detailedguide/malignant-mesothelioma-survival-statistics)
American Cancer Society - Malignant Mesothelioma (http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003119-pdf.pdf)
The Global Burden of Disease Due to Occupational Carcinogens (http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/nas/rdrp/appendices/chapter5/a5-6.pdf)
Industrial Health - Malignant mesothelioma: global incidence and relationship with asbestos (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17634686)
International Ban Asbestos Secretariat - Chronology of National Asbestos Bans (http://ibasecretariat.org/asbestos_ban_list.php)