From 1999 to 2015, 54,418 mesothelioma cases were reported in the United States with 45,009 reported deaths from 1999 to 2016. The number of deaths has increased, with 2,479 deaths in 1999 and 2,597 deaths in 2015.
Mesothelioma cancer statistics are gathered from trusted sources, like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to ensure accuracy for doctors, researchers, patients and loved ones looking to better understand mesothelioma prevalence. Though the statistics can be jarring, it’s important to recognize that they are based on a large number of cases, and individual cases can vary greatly.
Mesothelioma in the United States
Approximately 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed each year in the United States. The CDC collects information on both mesothelioma incidence rate and mortality to provide information regarding how many patients are diagnosed with mesothelioma and die from the cancer. The most recent information spans from 1999 to 2015 or 2016.
- 54,418 cases of mesothelioma were diagnosed during 1999 – 2015.
- 45,009 deaths from mesothelioma were reported during 1999 – 2016.
- Malignant mesothelioma mortality rate has increased from 1999 to 2015, with 2,479 reported deaths in 1999 and 2,596 deaths reported in 2015.
- 20 million people in the United States are estimated to be at risk for developing mesothelioma at some point during their lives.
Mesothelioma statistics can also be broken out by state, which may offer information regarding areas with natural asbestos exposure, prevalence of high-risk occupations and other risk factors. The southern United States faced the most diagnosed cases of mesothelioma with 17,330 cases from 1999 – 2015. The midwest followed with 12,935 diagnosed cases, the northeast with 12,687 and the west with 11,466. Broken down by state, California, Florida, Pennsylvania, New York and Texas had the highest rate of mesothelioma diagnoses and deaths.
Mesothelioma Statistics by Age & Gender
The types of occupations that men and women held impacts these numbers, as men often held jobs that were at higher risk of occupational exposure during the height of asbestos use. The latency period also affects age-related statistics, as mesothelioma symptoms take 10 – 50 years to develop, increasing the average age at diagnosis.
All diagnosis statistics listed below are for 1999 – 2015 and death statistics are for 1999 – 2016.
- 42,080 men and 12,338 women were diagnosed with mesothelioma in the United States.
- The most diagnoses were for those 75 – 79 years old, accounting for 10,188 cases.
- The least diagnoses were for those 15 – 19 years old, accounting for 40 cases.
- 35,850 men and 9,159 women died from mesothelioma in the United States, with 2,609 deaths under the age of 50.
- The most mesothelioma deaths were among those 75 – 84 years old, accounting for 16,716 deaths.
- The least mesothelioma deaths were among those 15 years old and younger, accounting for just two deaths.
Mesothelioma Survival Statistics
Survival rates for mesothelioma patients vary based on a variety of factors, including age, gender, overall health, mesothelioma type and stage at the time of diagnosis. However, general statistics can be used to provide physicians and patients with a better idea of how the cancer will progress to provide an accurate prognosis.
Survival Rates by Age & Gender
Female patients generally have better survival rates than men, which is commonly noted in other cancer types as well. Younger patients generally have better survival rates than older patients, usually due to better overall health and ability to benefit from more aggressive mesothelioma treatments.
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- Data is limited for testicular mesothelioma, but case studies have shown a median survival of 20 – 23 months.
- Peritoneal mesothelioma has a one-year survival rate of about 92% and a five-year survival rate of 50% or more for patients who undergo surgery with HIPEC.
- Pleural mesothelioma has a one-year survival rate of about 73% and a five-year survival rate of about 5%.
- Pericardial mesothelioma has a one-year survival rate of 51% with most patients seeing an average life expectancy of around six months.
Those diagnosed at early stages often experience better survival rates than those diagnosed in the later stages, largely due to cancer progression and the amount of treatment options available. With malignant pleural mesothelioma being the most common type, the American Cancer Society has established average survival rates based on stage. Other forms of mesothelioma are more rare, with limited stage-specific survival rates and mortality data available.
- For stage 1 pleural mesothelioma, the two-year survival rate is around 41 – 46% with a five-year survival rate of around 13 – 16%.
- For stage 2 pleural mesothelioma, the two-year survival rate is 38% with a five-year survival rate of around 10%.
- For stage 3 pleural mesothelioma, the two-year survival rate is around 26 – 30% with a five-year survival rate of around 5 – 8%.
- For stage 4 pleural mesothelioma, the two-year survival rate is around 17% with a five-year survival rate of less than 1%.
Global Mesothelioma Statistics
A recent study found that an estimated 38,400 deaths occur globally each year from mesothelioma, and the World Health Organization estimates 43,000 per year, demonstrating that mesothelioma cancer is a global issue not confined to the United States. The countries with the most reports of mesothelioma diagnoses include the United Kingdom, The Netherlands, Malta, Belgium, Australia and New Zealand. Countries with some of the lowest rates include Japan and Central Europe.
Countries with Asbestos Bans
Asbestos exposure is by far the most common cause of malignant mesothelioma and is also known to cause asbestosis, lung cancer and other asbestos-related diseases. Countries around the world have committed to banning the carcinogen, and many continue to advocate for a worldwide ban.
Currently, these countries have set a national asbestos ban:
- Czech Republic
- New Caledonia
- New Zealand
- Saudi Arabia
- South Africa
- South Korea
- United Kingdom
Mesothelioma facts and statistics regarding the amount of diagnosed cases each year and worldwide deaths can help demonstrate the risk of asbestos and need for a global ban.
Early History of Mesothelioma
From discovering a link between asbestos exposure and mesothelioma to discovering new chemotherapy drugs, mesothelioma research has played a crucial role in the development of early diagnostic tools and effective treatment options. Research over the past few decades has also played an important role in developing the facts and statistics about mesothelioma that we know today.
1900s – 1920s
After the first case of asbestosis is found in 1899, asbestos is then linked to 50 deaths. The first cases of lung disease as a result of asbestos are confirmed. In 1918, the United States Department of Labor noted that there is an urgent need for an investigation into the risks of asbestos. The first case of asbestosis is found in British literature between 1924 and 1927. Reports also find that the average age at the time of death for individuals diagnosed with asbestosis is 41 years of age. During the 1920s, more than 25 asbestos-related articles were published.
Cases of asbestosis continue to emerge, especially in manufacturing plants, mills and asbestos job sites. Research finds that a longer length and higher level of asbestos exposure leads to a higher risk of developing an asbestos-related illness. Case studies also prove that even brief exposure puts people at risk. In the late 1930s, research finds poor survival rates for those dying of asbestosis, and cases of asbestos-related lung cancer and asbestos cancer rise. Throughout the 1930s, more than 150 asbestos-related articles are published.
As occupational exposure poses a larger and larger issue, it becomes clear that workers need to be educated on the risks of asbestos. United States Navy sites are tested and found to contain high amounts of asbestos. In Germany, workers are granted compensation for being diagnosed with asbestosis and lung cancer as a result of their exposure. In 1943, the first documented case of pleural mesothelioma emerges. Throughout the 1940s, more than 50 new asbestos-related articles are published.
Large case numbers of lung cancer and asbestosis continue to emerge throughout the 1950s. A strong connection is found between insulation containing asbestos and workers falling ill, especially as an insulation worker is diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma. Throughout the 1950s more than 125 new asbestos-related articles are published.
Numerous cases of mesothelioma arise, and links are seen between mesothelioma and asbestos exposure with miners, mill workers and shipyard workers. Asbestos plant workers are seen to have the highest mortality rates. In 1965, nine diagnosed cases of mesothelioma emerged in family members of asbestos workers, proving the chance and dangers of secondhand exposure. Throughout the 1960s, more than 200 asbestos- and mesothelioma-related articles are published.
1973 marked the height of asbestos demand, which dropped dramatically within the next few years as the risks of asbestos exposure become well-known. Cases of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses continued to rise, and federal legislation begins to limit the use of asbestos. Meanwhile, research strives to make advances in mesothelioma treatment, as the first extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) is performed and chemotherapy drugs like cisplatin are used to treat the disease. Throughout the 1970s, over 1,000 articles regarding mesothelioma and asbestos were published.
1980s – 1990s
Though asbestos use greatly declined after the 1970s, there was a peak in mesothelioma cases throughout the United States in the 1980s and 1990s. Research begins to expand for the different types of mesothelioma and more information is collected regarding the types of asbestos and the dangers they pose. Latency period is also recognized, along with jobs that posed the highest risk of exposure. Popular asbestos-containing materials are phased out, and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) puts forth new regulations and standards regarding the use and handling of asbestos.
Due to its long latency period, mesothelioma cases continue to emerge with as many as 2,596 deaths being reported in 2015. New treatments have been studied and shown success in extending survival, such as the use of surgery and HIPEC for peritoneal mesothelioma. As of today, asbestos is still not fully banned and members of the mesothelioma community continue to fight for a full ban on the carcinogenic material.
Author: Linda Molinari
Editor in Chief, Mesothelioma Cancer AllianceRead about Linda
Reviewer: Dr. James Stevenson
Medical Reviewer and Thoracic Medical OncologistRead about James
American Cancer Society. Survival Statistics for Mesothelioma. Updated December 2017.
American Cancer Society. What Are the Key Statistics About Malignant Mesothelioma. Updated February 2016.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. United States and Puerto Rico Cancer Statistics, 1999-2015 Incidence Results. WONDER Online Database.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Underlying Cause of Death, 1999-2016 Results. WONDER Online Database.
Mazurek JM, Syamlal G, Woud JM, et al. Malignant Mesothelioma Mortality - United States, 1999-2015. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. March 2017;66(8):214-218.
National Cancer Institute. SEER Cancer Statistics Review 1975-2015. Updated September 2018.
Odgerel CO, Takahashi K, Sorahan T, et al. Estimation of the global burden of mesothelioma deaths from incomplete national mortality data. Occupational Environmental Medicine. 2017;74:851-858. doi: 10.1136/oemed-2017-104298