From the blog

Mesothelioma Diagnosis Rates Have Remained Stable even though Mesothelioma Survival has Improved

Published: September 5, 2019

It was found that the number of pleural mesothelioma diagnoses has stayed the same, while the survival rate for people with the disease has slightly improved. Once asbestos was not used as much because of multiple regulations, the number of diagnoses of mesothelioma was predicted to go down. Instead, the number of diagnoses has remained stable. The peak of mesothelioma diagnoses was expected to happen between 2000 and 2005, but instead people continued to be diagnosed steadily.

Mesothelioma rates were predicted to drop off because asbestos became heavily regulated. Multiple uses became banned and it was slowly phased out for safer alternatives. Even with the safer alternatives being used, there are still many places that have asbestos. People can be exposed to the substance occupationally or accidentally because it can be found in many different locations. They can then develop the disease over many years. This prevents the slowdown of mesothelioma diagnoses and allows the rates of the disease to stay the same. Until asbestos is completely banned and remediated from every place that it is located, mesothelioma rates are going to continue to stay the same.

The National Cancer Database was used to gather and analyze the information about people with pleural mesothelioma. People with the disease were identified, and their treatments and survival were then analyzed. The study ended up looking at 20,988 patients with pleural mesothelioma. The number per year went from 1,783 to 1,961, which is .3 percent of all reported cancers every year. The proportion of older patients also increased, going from 75 to 80 percent. One year survival went from 37 to 47 percent and the 3 year survival went from 9 to 15 percent.

Different factors increase the chance that people live longer with mesothelioma. Many more people were treated for the disease. Thirty-four percent of people got treatment in 2004 versus 54 percent of people getting treatment in 2014. Certain patients including women, younger patients, and those with the epithelioid subtype also tended to live longer as well. People who were treated in an academic medical center and had better health insurance also lived longer. Finally, people who were treated with a multimodal approach, which uses multiple different therapies together, lived longer compared to those who were only treated with one type of therapy.


HB Keshava, “Largely Unchanged Annual Incidence and Overall Survival of Pleural Mesothelioma in the USA” World Journal of Surgery (August 19, 2019). [Link]

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