Mesothelioma Mortality Rate

Each year, approximately 3,000 patients are diagnosed with mesothelioma.

Surprisingly, the mesothelioma mortality rates have remained fairly stable over the last few decades with 2,479 deaths in 1999, increasing only slightly to 2,597 deaths in 2015.

What is the Death Rate from Mesothelioma in the United States?

According to the CDC, the death rate of mesothelioma was about 8 deaths per million people between 1995 and 2015.

During those 20 years, there were reports that 45,221 Americans died from malignant mesothelioma.

The death rate in the United States is relatively low when compared with the United Kingdom which saw 17.8 deaths per million between 1994 and 2008.

Understanding the Numbers

While mortality rate and death rate are different terms, they both refer to the same thing: the total number of deaths either in general or from a specific cause in a group of people.

Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer, with only 3,000 Americans diagnosed yearly. The life expectancy after being diagnosed with mesothelioma is around a year, which is why the death rate and incidence rate are so close.

In addition to the mortality rate, it’s important to understand the survival rate as well. The survival rate refers to how many people live one and five years beyond their time of diagnosis. Because of the poor prognosis, only about 40% of mesothelioma patients survive past the first year.

CDC Database

The CDC runs a database called WONDER, which is an online database that has information about the specific number of mesothelioma deaths between 1999 and 2017.

Breakdown of Mesothelioma Deaths By Gender, Race, and Age

The following death rates have been adjusted to reflect the 25-50 year latency period between asbestos exposure and diagnosis of mesothelioma.

Because of this latency period, each of the statistics is based on people that are 25 years and older.


  • The death rate is lower in women than it is in men because women tend to have a better prognosis than men that are diagnosed with mesothelioma.
  • Between 1995 and 2015, there was a reported death rate among men of 24.9 deaths per million, while the rate for women was just 4.65 deaths per million.
  • The death rate for men did decrease slightly between 1999 and 2010, going from 25.5 deaths per million to 23 deaths per million.
  • The death rate for women fluctuated between 1999 and 2010, but ultimately remained very close. In 1999, 4.6 women per million died from mesothelioma and dropped slightly in 2010, with 4.5 deaths per million.
  • Mesothelioma is much more common in white people than in any other race. Between 1999 and 2015, there were 14.25 deaths per million amongst white Americans while there were only 5.96 deaths per million amongst Native Americans or Alaska Natives, 5.84 per million in Blacks/African Americans, and only 3.52 deaths per million Asians or Pacific Islanders.
  • Most of the people that died from asbestos-related cancer between 1999 and 2010 were over the age of 60. 11,170 deaths were in those between the ages of 75 and 84; 8,637 deaths between the ages of 65 and 74; and only 91 deaths amongst those between 25 and 34 years old.
  • Between 1999 and 2010, nearly 95% of the people that died from asbestos cancers were white, with a total of 28,639 deaths. The next largest group is Blacks/African Americans with 3.9% of the deaths, at a total of 1,149.
  • According to the CDC, cancer cases related to asbestos should be declining now that the peak for males has passed. Between 2008 and 2010, more than 2,000 males were diagnosed per year. By 2055, cases should be back down to background levels by 2055.

Mesothelioma Deaths by State

Most mesothelioma cases occur in people that live in the midwest, northwest, and northeast.

Deaths Per 100,000 Between 1999 and 2017

  • Maine – 1.7
  • West Virginia – 1.4
  • Pennsylvania – 1.3
  • Washington – 1.2
  • Montana – 1.2

How the Type of Mesothelioma Impacts Mortality

While age, race, and gender seem to all have impacts on the mortality of mesothelioma, they are not the only factors to take into account. The type of mesothelioma is also a key factor in the prognosis and death rate.

When looking at the specific numbers, it is vital to keep in mind that the incidence rates between types of mesothelioma do vary greatly.

The most common type of mesothelioma is pleural and it has a higher mortality rate. The second most common type is peritoneal, with a death rate of around half.

Number of Deaths by Type

  • Pleural – 3,351
  • Peritoneum – 1,854
  • Pericardium – 74
  • Other – 5,280
  • Unspecified – 35,068

The type of mesothelioma certainly does affect the mortality rate, but the stage at which they are diagnosed plays a huge factor in a patient’s projected life expectancy. The CDC does not track this information.

Life expectancy can also be influenced by the types of cells that make up the tumors, with a difference of up to 200 days, on average. This is another bit of information that the CDC does not track.

Asbestos Use and Latency Period

Because of the long latency period with asbestos-related diseases, it could be a long time before a person develops any diseases due to the exposure.

In fact, it is decades before most people are diagnosed with any asbestos-related disease.

After asbestos regulations were first enacted in the 1970s, it was believed that there would eventually be a decrease in mesothelioma cases. Researchers believe that the peak has already passed in the United States.

Improved Treatments

Thanks to improved treatments, patients with mesothelioma could see improved prognosis over time. Patients that choose no therapy tend to live 7 months less than first-line chemotherapy patients. Surgery tends to increase the chances of survival, but that could be because surgical candidates usually have better overall health and earlier staging.