Incidence and Trends in Mesothelioma

On average, there are around 3,000 new diagnoses of mesothelioma in the U.S. annually.

While the incidence in the U.S. was thought to have reached its peak in the late 1980s and early 1990s, there are still people being exposed to asbestos in the last few decades that will go on to develop cancer in the next ten to thirty years.

Rarity of Mesothelioma

In just a 5 year span in the early 2000s, the National Institute of Health reported that there were more than 19,000 cases of mesothelioma diagnosed in the US. That is more than 3,000 per year, which means that while it is certainly not as common as countless other illnesses, it is well-established and it is here to stay.

These numbers break down to a rate of about one new case per 100,000 people in the country.

Studies Provide Insight Into Incidence Rates

Researchers hope to use epidemiology to reveal more information about any particular group’s incidence rates to help assess risk. This can help them identify groups or populations that are at an increased risk compared to others. It can assist in studying changes in the incidence rates over time, helpful when analyzing whether the disease is becoming more or less prevalent. It may even lead to the identification of additional factors that cause mesothelioma, enabling more effective prevention and screening.

Mesothelioma Incidence Across Gender

Mesothelioma has typically been reported in adult men. While men do still receive the majority of confirmed diagnoses, women now make up approximately 25% of all new cases diagnosed. Since the data has begun being tracked there has been a much closer rate of incidence in men and women.

Mesothelioma Incidence Across Race and Age

The latest data from SEER seems to indicate that the age group of 80-84 sees the highest mesothelioma incidence, with nearly 9 cases per 100,000. Over 85 are the next most common, with 8.5 cases per 100,000.

The incidence across race demographics shows that Black Americans have a much lower incidence than whites in the over 65 categories, while younger than that they appear to have the same incidence.

Mesothelioma Incidence By Type

Pleural mesothelioma, which is the most common, occurs in approximately 3 out of 100,000 people. 

The second most common type, peritoneal mesothelioma, or mesothelioma of the abdomen, had an incidence of only 0.21 cases per 100,000 people after adjusting for age. Those younger than 45 were shown to be just as likely to develop pleural mesothelioma as peritoneal mesothelioma, quite a difference in incidence otherwise. The least common type is peritoneal mesothelioma in someone 75 or older.