Australia and Mesothelioma

Australia has a long history of using asbestos. As such, it has one of the highest rates of mesothelioma in the world. The Australian government has closely monitored asbestos cases for close to thirty years in an effort to track accurate statistics. A report released in 2008 tracked cases of mesothelioma from 1980 through 2004. Here is a look at some of the findings.

Australian Mesothelioma Statistics

In 1982, there were 156 cases of mesothelioma reported. By 2004, that number had risen to 596. That is a major increase that is close to four times the number in 1982. Men accounted for the majority of mesothelioma cases. In addition, the elderly were most vulnerable. Most reported cases affected people between the ages of 75 and 79. In 2004, there about 2.9 cases of mesothelioma for over 100,000 Australians. That was up from 1.2 cases in 1982. The mortality rates were also grim. There 416 deaths from the diseases in 1997. That number rose to 522 for 2004, the final year of the study.

The study also covered data for specific regions in Australia. According to state data and the study, New South Wales has the most reported cases of mesothelioma in Australia. New South Wales contains the majority of the population of Australia. Other highly populated areas like Victoria, Queensland, and areas in the western part of Australia also had a high number of cases.

As far as mesothelioma cases per capita, Western Australia had the highest rate. In the 1930s, something called crocidolite asbestos was mined in a town called Wittenoom. At one time, over 20,000 people lived in this area. The town was rich in asbestos, and as a result mesothelioma became prominent. At least a thousand people from that region have died. Most others have left due to the asbestos contamination. Fewer than ten residents remain.

The Future of Mesothelioma in Australia

Mesothelioma has a long latency period. The disease can take decades to show any signs. Because of this, prognosis for the disease is usually grim. It also spells worry for this study. Due to the long latency periods, most believe the numbers will continue to increase beyond 2010. According to a study from the University of Sydney, estimates say that close to 18,000 cases will be reported by 2020.

References:

Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia

Asbestos Industry Association

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

University of Sydney