Mesothelioma statistics can only show part of the impact that this malignant cancer has on its victims. The fact is, mesothelioma affects thousands of people each year, both in the United States and throughout the world, many of whom may not even know they were at risk.
Because many people rely on statistics about mesothelioma and asbestos to inform personal medical and legal decisions, we put together this page to provide the most useful, current and informative mesothelioma statistics and facts available. All of these statistics came from prominent government agencies, awareness organizations, and medical journal articles that address mesothelioma and other forms of cancer.
Mesothelioma in the United States
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.
From 1999 to 2010, the number of people who died each year in the U.S. from mesothelioma as an underlying or contributing cause increased by 10%.
Development of 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.
The average age at which a person is diagnosed with mesothelioma is 74 (74 for males, 71 for females).
- 91% of people diagnosed with mesothelioma are 55 or older.
Early detection is important, as there is a strong correlation between the age at which mesothelioma diagnosis occurs and survival:
Nearly five times as many men develop mesothelioma than women.
People who are diagnosed with mesothelioma live between 12 and 21 months on average. However, between 5% and 10% of mesothelioma survivors live for at least five years after diagnosis.
The average length of survival corresponds to the stage at which mesothelioma is diagnosed:
Types of Mesothelioma
Of the three types of mesothelioma that exist:
- 50% – 60% are epithelioid
- 10% – 20% are sarcomatoid (fibrous)
- 30% – 40% are mixed (biphasic)
The most common type of mesothelioma is pleural mesothelioma (lungs), which occurs in about 75% of mesothelioma cases. Most other cases consist of peritoneal mesothelioma (abdomen), while pericardial mesothelioma (heart) and mesothelioma of the tunica vaginilis (testicles) are both very rare.
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.
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)
- Morocco (amphiboles)
- Nepal (effective June 20, 2015)
- New Caledonia
- New Zealand
- Oman (amosite, crocidolite, chrysotile)
- Saudi Arabia
- South Africa
- South Korea
- Thailand (partial)
- Switzerland (crocidolite, amosite, and chrysotile)
Countries Expected to Ban Asbestos Completely by 2020
National Cancer Institute - What are the key statistics about malignant mesothelioma?
Centers for Disease Control - Malignant mesothelioma (all sites): Number of deaths, crude and age-adjusted death rates, U.S. residents age 15 and over, 1999–2010
The Worldwide Pandemic of Asbestos-Related Diseases
Malignant mesothelioma: facts, myths, and hypotheses
CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report
SEER Program - Median Age of Cancer Patients at Diagnosis, 2007-2011 By Primary Cancer Site, Race and Sex
SEER Program - Age Distribution (%) of Incidence Cases by Site, 2007-2011 All Races, Both Sexes
SEER Program - 5-Year Relative Survival (Percent) 2004-2010 by Age at Diagnosis
SEER Program - Age-adjusted SEER Incidence Rates by Year, Race and Sex
American Society of Clinical Oncology - Mesothelioma: Statistics
American Cancer Society - Survival statistics for mesothelioma
American Cancer Society - Malignant Mesothelioma
The Global Burden of Disease Due to Occupational Carcinogens
Industrial Health - Malignant mesothelioma: global incidence and relationship with asbestos
Industry Week - France Calls For Worldwide Asbestos Ban
International Ban Asbestos Secretariat - Chronology of National Asbestos Bans
Building and Woodworkers International - Global Asbestos Bans and Restrictions