Mesothelioma Statistics

Approximately 2,000 to 3,000 malignant mesothelioma cases are diagnosed in the United States every year. Most of these cancer cases, approximately 70 to 80 percent, are related to exposure of asbestos fibers. The widespread use of asbestos materials during the 20th Century led to an increase in the number of mesothelioma cases from the 1970s through the 1990s. Many of the patients diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma were employed in industries or occupations where asbestos fibers were present. This is particularly the case in industries such as auto repair, construction, textiles, shipyard work, farming, railroad, and some types of manufacturing.

Mesothelioma: Trends Based on Age

According to statistical data published by The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), between 1998 and 2018 62,550 Americans were diagnosed with mesothelioma. Most cases (82.1 percent) were pleural mesothelioma. The median age of death from malignant mesothelioma was 74 years-old during this period. Mortality rates in the older age group ranges may be primarily due to the extensive latency period that may range from 10 to 40 years or more. A person may breathe in asbestos fibers for several decades before the disease finally surfaces and is diagnosed.

Another reason that the older age group ranges may be more susceptible to malignant mesothelioma diagnoses and death is that the use of asbestos was more commonly used in a wide range of materials and occupations during most of the 1900s in the United States. As the populations that worked in those asbestos-related industries aged, the mortality rates in the older age groups have risen.

The statistical data from the CDC also states that a total of 18,083 people across all age groups died from malignant mesothelioma between the years of 1999 to 2005. The age group ranges with the lowest mortality rates during this period were ages 15 through 24 with a total of 15 deaths and ages 25 through 34 with a total of 51 deaths.

Mesothelioma: Trends Based on Gender

Statistical data shows that men are more likely than women to be diagnosed with mesothelioma. Studies have shown that this may be a result of the fact that more men than women have worked in asbestos-contaminated occupations or industries and therefore have an increased chance of being exposed to asbestos fibers.

According to CDC data, 14,598 men and 3,485 women died of malignant mesothelioma during the period from 1999 through 2005. Although the diagnoses and deaths of mesothelioma in men are higher than women, there has been an increase in the number of diagnoses in women. Studies have shown that this may be due to second-hand exposure from handling clothing or other tools or objects that may have been carried from the workplace to home.

According to an abstract published by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the percentages for mesothelioma diagnosis for men and women per anatomical site are the following:
Men: pleura 90.2%
abdominal cavity 8.3%
genital region 0.7%
heart and other 0.4%
Women: pleura 71.1%
abdominal cavity 24.3%
heart 1.6%
genital and other 1.5%
Overall men are at higher risk to develop mesothelioma; however, women are at higher risk for pericardial (heart) and peritoneal (abdomen) related mesothelioma diagnoses. Peritoneal mesothelioma is sometimes misdiagnosed in women because it comes from the same tissues as ovarian cancer. There is difficulty in distinguishing between mesothelioma tissues of the peritoneum and tissues of the ovary, which may result in a misdiagnosis, or late diagnosis.

Data shows that the number of mesothelioma incidences in men reached a peak between the period of 2000 and 2005. There were more than 2,000 male deaths each year during this time. The number of incidence in women is expected to increase slightly due to changes in the size of the population and the shift in age distribution. There were more than 500 female deaths each year between 2000 and 2005. According to the ASCO abstract, women typically survive longer than men after a mesothelioma diagnosis.

Mesothelioma: Trends Based on Race

During the period between 1999 and 2005, mortality rates of white Americans was higher than that of African Americans and all other races in the United States. There were 17,191 deaths of white Americans, 710 deaths of African Americans, and 182 deaths of all other races during this period. Additional research is being conducted to try and explain why the incidence is higher for Caucasians than any other racial group.

Mesothelioma: Trends Based on Mesothelioma Type

The three primary types of mesothelioma are pleural (cancer of the covering of the lung), peritoneal (cancer of the abdomen), and pericardial (cancer of lining/surrounding the heart). Pleural mesothelioma makes up between 67 and 75 percent of mesothelioma cases. Peritoneal mesothelioma makes up between 25 and 33 percent of all mesothelioma cases, and pericardial mesothelioma is the rarest form making up less than 10 percent of all mesothelioma cases. According to CDC statistical data, the number of deaths from pleural mesothelioma was 1,572 and the number of deaths from peritoneal mesothelioma was 659 during the period of 1999 through 2005. There were over 2,000 deaths from all other types of mesothelioma at other anatomical sites during the same period.

Mesothelioma: Trends in Mesothelioma Prognosis

Approximately 40 percent of patients diagnosed with mesothelioma survive through the one-year milestone. Approximately 20 percent of those diagnosed are alive two years after diagnosis. Ten percent survive three years after diagnosis and 8 percent survive five years later. Survival is correlated with the type of mesothelioma, stage of the disease at diagnosis and type and efficacy of treatments.

Related: Using statistics to evaluate risk and recommend screening tests

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