Worldwide Mesothelioma Epidemic Could Be in the Future According to Data
Mesothelioma is a rare, aggressive, and deadly form of cancer that occurs in the thin layer of tissue covering the majority of a person’s internal organs. Though there is no definitive known cause of mesothelioma, many researchers firmly believe asbestos exposure greatly increases a person’s risk for developing the disease. A recent study sought to evaluate worldwide asbestos exposure and how it corresponds with mesothelioma rates. Diagnosis rates have soared globally in recent years and medical experts are unsure of the cause. Their goal is to collect and analyze as much data as is available and determine if there is a mesothelioma epidemic underway. A recent study analyzed data from Cancer and Mesothelioma Registries from around the world, while also personally speaking to and collecting information from local researchers in certain regions. Results of the data collection showed the highest incidence of mesothelioma occurred in Europe, specifically the UK, Netherlands, Malta, and Belgium, and in Australia and New Zealand. Notably lower rates were present in Central Europe and Japan. Many of the moderate regions still showed a steady increase, despite not ranking at the highest levels. The study concluded that a mesothelioma epidemic is not definitive, but could be in the future. Asbestos is still used in much of the world, having been banned in only 55 countries. Unfortunately, there is limited data available from countries in which asbestos is still in use – data both pertaining to its extent of use and the incidence of mesothelioma.
Highest Rates of Mesothelioma
Of the countries with the highest rates of mesothelioma:
- The UK reported steadily increasing rates since monitoring began in 1968 and reported 2360 in 2010 and 2291 in 2011.
- Australia reported 666 cases in 2009, with a 2011 report of 3.2 cases for men and 0.7 cases for women per 100,000.
- The Netherlands reported a mean number of 526 cases per year from 2008 to 2001.
- New Zealand reported between 60 and 102 cases per year between 2000 and 2010.
- Belgium report 273 cases in 2011.
Data also shows the rates of mesothelioma within each country vary from region to region, so in a way, these national rates are misleading. In most cases, when clusters of higher rates are found, an asbestos mine is nearby or asbestos was widely used in the area. What researchers are still trying to determine is why areas like Japan, Poland, and Spain, in which there were high instances of asbestos use in shipbuilding, show some of the world’s lowest rates for mesothelioma. Researchers also predict a coming wave of mesothelioma diagnoses that will encompass a greater number of regions through the world. Though a link between asbestos exposure and mesothelioma is assumed, additional accurate global data is needed to form a definitive conclusion concerning the link. References: http://www.ijoem.com/article.asp?issn=0019-5278;year=2014;volume=18;issue=2;spage=82;epage=88;aulast=Bianchi