Mesothelioma Statistics & Facts

Expert Fact Checked

This page was medically reviewed by James Stevenson, M.D. on February 22, 2019. For information on our content creation and review process read our editorial guidelines. If you notice an error or have comments or questions on our content please contact us.

James Stevenson, M.D. Thoracic Medical Oncologist

Mesothelioma statistics show there are about 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma diagnosed in the United States each year. The cancer occurs most often in men. Pleural mesothelioma is the most common form, about 80 – 90% of all cases. The average age at diagnosis is between 65 and 74 years old.

01. Key Mesothelioma Facts

Key Mesothelioma Facts

Understanding key facts about mesothelioma can help patients make informed decisions and set expectations for their cancer journey. The statistics may also be useful in raising awareness of the disease.

  • Mesothelioma is caused by asbestos exposure.
  • In 2016, mesothelioma accounted for less than 0.2% of all cancer diagnoses in the United States. According to the National Cancer Institute, the 2018 estimate is approximately 0.17%.
  • There are four forms of the cancer: pleural, peritoneal, pericardial and testicular.
  • Mesothelioma symptoms typically do not develop until 10 – 50 years after asbestos exposure.
  • There are approximately 3,000 new diagnoses and 2,500 mesothelioma deaths each year in the United States.
  • Life expectancy for mesothelioma patients is on average 18 – 31 months from diagnosis but can vary significantly based on a host of factors.
02. Who Is Most at Risk?

Who Is Most at Risk of Developing Mesothelioma?

Any person exposed to asbestos is at risk of developing mesothelioma because there is no safe level of asbestos exposure. There are a number of risk factors that can influence an individual’s likelihood of developing an asbestos disease, including long periods of exposure and age. Mesothelioma statistics show the disease is more commonly diagnosed in males who are 65 years old and older.

Mesothelioma Statistics by Age & Gender

Mesothelioma is more commonly diagnosed among men than women. Scientists believe the difference in incidence rates is due to men being at higher risk of occupational exposure during the height of asbestos use.

The latency period also affects age-related statistics. Mesothelioma symptoms typically take 10 – 50 years to develop, increasing the average age at diagnosis. The average age at mesothelioma diagnosis is 74 years old, regardless of race and gender.

  • Average age at diagnosis for female patients: 71 years old
  • Average age at diagnosis for male patients: 75 years old

The following statistics were gathered from the most recent data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

Mesothelioma Statistics from 1999 to 2016
  • 44,538 men and 13,119 women were diagnosed with mesothelioma in the United States.
  • 10,743 cases were diagnosed among those 75 – 79 years old.
  • 9,391 cases were diagnosed among those 70 – 74 years old.
  • 5,399 cases were diagnosed among those 60 – 64 years old.
  • 37,874 men and 9,786 women died from mesothelioma in the United States.*
  • The most mesothelioma deaths were among those 75 – 84 years old, accounting for 14,461 deaths.*
  • 1,403 mesothelioma deaths occurred in patients under the age of 50.*

*Mesothelioma statistics from 1999 to 2017

03. Latency Period Facts

Mesothelioma Latency Period Facts

Mesothelioma cancer has a long latency period, which refers to the length of time between asbestos exposure and the onset of symptoms.

It may take 10 – 50 years after asbestos exposure for a patient to develop symptoms. The average mesothelioma latency period is between 35 and 40 years. Studies indicate there is no significant statistical difference in latency period between pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma patients.

Peritoneal Mesothelioma Latency Period

However, latency period is affected by many factors, including patient characteristics and occupation. For instance, a recent study found an average latency period of 46.3 years among construction workers, while shipyard workers experienced an average latency period of 51 years.

Studies have shown, on average, female peritoneal mesothelioma patients have a 29% longer latency period than men.

04. Statistics by Location

Mesothelioma Statistics by Location

There are four types of mesothelioma, differentiated by where the cancer originates. The location of the cancer impacts how the disease will develop and be treated.

Pleural Mesothelioma
  • Accounts for 80 – 90% of all mesothelioma diagnoses
  • Develops within the lung linings
  • 2,500 diagnoses each year
Peritoneal Mesothelioma
  • Accounts for 15 – 20% of all mesothelioma diagnoses
  • Develops within the abdominal lining
  • 500 diagnoses each year
Pericardial Mesothelioma
  • Accounts for about 1% of all mesothelioma diagnoses
  • Develops within the heart lining
  • Fewer than 50 diagnoses each year
Testicular Mesothelioma
  • Accounts for less than 1% of all mesothelioma diagnoses
  • Develops within the testicular linings
  • Only about 100 cases described in medical literature
05. Survival Statistics

Mesothelioma Survival Statistics

Survival rates for mesothelioma patients vary based on a variety of factors:

However, statistics may be used to provide doctors and patients with a better idea of how the cancer may progress to provide an accurate mesothelioma prognosis.

Survival Rates by Mesothelioma Location and Stage

  • Peritoneal mesothelioma has a 1-year survival rate of about 92% and a 5-year survival rate of about 65%.
  • Pleural mesothelioma has a 1-year survival rate of about 73% and a 5-year survival rate of about 12%.
  • Pericardial mesothelioma has a 1-year survival rate of 51%, with an average life expectancy of around six months.
  • Testicular mesothelioma has limited data available on survival, but case studies indicate a median survival of 20 – 23 months.

Those diagnosed at early stages often experience more favorable survival rates than those diagnosed in the later stages of mesothelioma. This is largely due to cancer progression and the number of treatment options available.

Malignant pleural mesothelioma is the most common form of the cancer. As a result, it is the most studied form of the disease. The American Cancer Society has established average pleural mesothelioma survival rates by stage.

Stage 1 Pleural Mesothelioma
  • 2-year survival rate is around 41 – 46%
  • 5-year survival rate is around 13 – 16%
Stage 2 Pleural Mesothelioma
  • 2-year survival rate is around 38%
  • 5-year survival rate is around 10%
Stage 3 Pleural Mesothelioma
  • 2-year survival rate is around 26 – 30%
  • 5-year survival rate is around 5 – 8%
Stage 4 Pleural Mesothelioma
  • 2-year survival rate is around 17%
  • 5-year survival rate is typically less than 1%

Other forms of mesothelioma are rarer and have limited stage-specific survival rates and mortality data available.

Survival Rates by Age & Gender

Female mesothelioma patients generally have better survival rates than men.

5-year Mesothelioma Survival Rate by Age and Gender
Age at Diagnosis Male Female
55 – 64 years old 9.8% 17%
65 – 74 years old 8% 14.7%
75+ years old 2.8% 6.1%

Additionally, data shows younger patients typically have better survival rates than older patients. This is believed to be because younger patients tend to have better overall health and are often able to receive more aggressive mesothelioma treatments.

06. Treatment Facts

Mesothelioma Treatment Facts

A treatment’s impact on patient survival will vary depending on the individual. However, patients who have undergone multimodal treatment often see improved survival rates.

  • Standard treatments used for mesothelioma include chemotherapy, radiation and surgery.
  • Patients with early-stage mesothelioma are often treated with surgery. Patients in the later stages of disease may not be eligible for this treatment.
  • Chemotherapy may be used with surgical options to decrease the risk of recurrent cancer.
  • For pleural mesothelioma patients, a 2017 study reported chemotherapy combined with surgery and radiation can increase overall survival to 29 months.
  • For peritoneal mesothelioma patients, studies show surgery combined with hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) may increase survival rate to 50% or higher.
  • Mesothelioma patients who do not undergo any form of treatment typically survive six months following diagnosis.
  • Clinical trials may be an option for mesothelioma patients during any stage of disease. Clinical trials are used to test emerging treatment options, such as immunotherapy.
07. Mesothelioma in the U.S.

Mesothelioma in the United States

Approximately 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed each year in the United States. Additionally, there are 2,500 mesothelioma-related deaths in the U.S. each year. The CDC collects information on both mesothelioma incidence rate and mortality rate. This data provides information regarding how many patients are diagnosed with mesothelioma and die from the cancer. The most recent information spans from 1999 to 2016 or 2017.

  • 57,657 cases of mesothelioma were diagnosed between 1999 and 2016.
  • 47,660 deaths from mesothelioma were reported between 1999 and 2017.
  • Mesothelioma mortality rates remain steady. There were 2,479 mesothelioma deaths reported in 1999 and 2,651 deaths reported in 2017.
  • Researchers estimate 20 million people in the United States are at risk of developing mesothelioma at some point in their lives.

It is also possible to break down statistics for mesothelioma cases by state. Analyzing statistics in this way may provide insights about areas with more instances of naturally occurring asbestos, prevalence of high-risk occupations and other mesothelioma risk factors.

According to the most recent data available, spanning from 1999 – 2016, the southern United States experienced the most diagnosed cases of mesothelioma.

  • Southern United States: 18,414 mesothelioma diagnoses
  • Midwestern United States: 13,720 mesothelioma diagnoses
  • Northeastern United States: 13,397 mesothelioma diagnoses
  • Western United States: 12,136 mesothelioma diagnoses

Broken down by state, California, Florida, Pennsylvania, New York and Texas had the highest rates of mesothelioma diagnoses and deaths. However, these states also have the largest populations, which may impact data.

Mesothelioma Statistics by State
Diagnoses* Deaths**
California 5,867 4,786
Florida 4,210 3,151
Pennsylvania 3,684 3,092
New York 3,667 2,606
Texas 3,241 2,462

*Diagnoses data from 1999 to 2016
**Mortality data from 1999 to 2017

08. Global Statistics

Global Mesothelioma Statistics

A recent study found an estimated 38,400 deaths occur globally from mesothelioma each year. The World Health Organization estimates 43,000 mesothelioma deaths per year. Although the exact global mortality rate is not confirmed, these statistics demonstrate that mesothelioma cancer is a global issue.

The countries with the most 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 the most common cause of malignant mesothelioma. Exposure to the mineral may also cause asbestosis, lung cancer and other asbestos-related diseases. To prevent these diseases, countries around the world have committed to banning the carcinogen. Globally, many continue to advocate for a worldwide ban.

Even with a ban, countries like the United Kingdom continue to face mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases because of the long latency period typical of the illnesses. A global ban may help reduce mesothelioma incidence.