Geographic distribution of malignant mesothelioma incidence and survival in Australia

descriptive epidemiology

What is known?

Mesothelioma is a cancer of the tissues that line the cavities of the torso and is usually caused by exposure to asbestos.

Certain regions and industries in Australia have had higher levels of asbestos exposure than others.

However, a diagnosis of mesothelioma may occur decades after exposure to asbestos, during which time people often relocate to other suburbs or states.

What is new?

We found particularly high rates of diagnoses of malignant mesothelioma in some regions with a history of asbestos exposure through industries such as mining, transport and electricity generation.

In other areas historically associated with asbestos mining, there were low rates of malignant mesothelioma but a high number of cases of mesothelioma.

Unfortunately, patients’ prognosis following a diagnosis of malignant mesothelioma is uniformly poor and no evidence of geographical differences were found in survival.

What does this mean?

Geographic variation in the expected number of cases of mesothelioma diagnosed annually shows there is a varying demand for diagnostic and treatment services.

The legacy of mining, transporting, manufacturing and building with asbestos in Australia have resulted in an ongoing risk of exposure and malignant mesothelioma.

Contact: Jess Cameron

Reference: Cameron JK, Aitken J, Reid A, Mengersen K, Cramb S, Preston P, Armstrong B, Baade P. Geographic distribution of malignant mesothelioma incidence and survival in Australia. Lung Cancer. 2022; 167:17-24.

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