It is thought that diagnosed mesothelioma is still on the rise in the UK, predominantly due to the fact that asbestos was used widely in various industries throughout the course of the last Century. Asbestos was not banned in all forms in the UK in 1999, leading to worries that cases and potential mesothelioma claims will not peak until 2020.

A recent Australian study may throw much needed light upon the estimated peak date. New published data within the research reveals a number of central trends in the incidence and survivability of mesothelioma, an incurable asbestos related cancer.

The study from the University of Sydney and the Cancer Institute of New South Wales suggests that the number of mesothelioma cases in Australia may have finally peaked.

A great number of workers in the mining industry in Australia sadly went on to develop asbestos related mesothelioma, resulting in one of the world’s highest per capita rates of mesothelioma.

Researchers at the University, led by Matthew J Soeberg, Research Fellow, concentrated their research on the incidence, mortality and survival of those diagnosed with both pleural mesothelioma, which affects the lining of the lungs as well as peritoneal mesothelioma, which affects the lining of the abdomen. Data was taken from people diagnosed between 1972 and 2009.

The researchers highlighted that the number of diagnosed cases of mesothelioma steadily rose until approximately 1994, before levelling off. The incidence of pleural mesothelioma essentially plateaued for around a decade.

The rare form of mesothelioma affecting the lining of the abdomen, peritoneal mesothelioma also remained relatively steady at around 11 cases per year since 1999.

The study also concluded that survival rates have remained relatively steady for both of the studied forms of mesothelioma but the five year survival in 2002 to 2006 for those diagnosed with epithelioid mesothelioma was much higher compared to other sub-types.

Other findings were illuminating in that it was found that survival odds were nearly twice as great for women when compared to men diagnosed with the asbestos related cancer.

With what appears to be a confirmed slowdown in incidences of mesothelioma in Australia it is hoped that this will eventually be mirrored here in the UK, although this cannot be guaranteed. We will continue to monitor new global, incidence, mortality and survival rate date and will report further on any new developments in the near future.

Source – Soeberg, MJ, et al, “Patterns in the incidence, mortality and survival of malignant pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma, New South Wales, 1972-2009”, 29 December 2015, Australia and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, Epub ahead of print.

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