Mesothelioma Mortality Rates

While mesothelioma is a relatively rare form of cancer, it is also severe and aggressive with a high mortality rate.  Between 1999 and 2005, the Center for Disease Control conducted a broad study to calculate the rates of death by malignant mesothelioma in the United States.  During the time of the study, a total of 18,068 people died of this disease, for a rate of 13.8 people per million.  This rate was further broken down by gender, race, age, and geographical location.

Deaths by Gender and Race

Men accounted for 80.8% of the total number of deaths from mesothelioma.  The vast majority  (95.1%) of those who died of the disease were white. Only 3.9% were black and approximately 1% came from other races.

Deaths by Age

Since the latency period for mesothelioma tends ranges from 20 to 50 years and mortality naturally increases with age, it is people who are in their sixties or seventies who were hit the hardest. 67% of those who died were between the ages of 65 and 84.  Only 7% were below the age of 55.  The average age of death from this disease was 74.

Deaths by State

Twenty-six states had a death rate that was higher than the national average:

New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maryland, Virginia, Florida, Louisiana, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Idaho all reported between 14.0 and 17.4 deaths per million people.

New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Montana, Wyoming, Oregon, and Washington reported greater than 17.5 deaths per million people.

For six states, the death rate exceeded 20 deaths per million people.  Maine had the highest rate, reporting 173 total deaths for a rate of 27.5.  Wyoming followed that with a rate of 22.2 deaths per million.  West Virginia reported 21.0 deaths of malignant mesothelioma per million, followed by Pennsylvania with a rate of 20.8.  New Jersey and Washington had rates of 20.2 and 20.1, respectively.

The high rate of mesothelioma deaths in Maine is believed to result from a combination of old homes and naturally-occurring asbestos deposits, as well as paper, chemical, and shipping companies who used asbestos in the past.