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Mesothelioma statistics

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that begins to grow in the pleural membrane. This is the name for the two thin layers of cells (the pleura) that line the outside of the lung and the inside of the chest. Less commonly, mesothelioma can affect a similar lining around the abdomen or heart.

The main cause of mesothelioma is breathing in asbestos dust. Mesothelioma is usually fatal. Treatments are currently aimed at easing symptoms and improving quality of life rather than a cure.

These statistics on mesothelioma in the UK were compiled as part of our Respiratory Health of the Nation project by teams at St George’s, University of London, Nottingham University and Imperial College London.

The disease information and research findings provided here refer only to mesothelioma of the chest, often called malignant pleural mesothelioma.

Numbers of people with mesothelioma

How many people in the UK have been diagnosed with mesothelioma?

Due to the short prognosis for mesothelioma, incidence and mortality data are more reliable than prevalence data in depicting trends.

However, in 2012, an estimated 5,400 people were living with mesothelioma in the UK.

Estimated numbers of people ever diagnosed with mesothelioma 2004–12


How many males and females have mesothelioma in the UK?

Around 80% of mesothelioma cases occur in men. This reflects the greater likelihood of men having worked with asbestos in heavy industry or the armed forces.

In 2004–12, almost four times as many men as women had mesothelioma.

 

Number of males and females ever diagnosed with mesothelioma per 100,000, 2004–12


Ages of people with mesothelioma

How old are the people with mesothelioma in the UK?

Mesothelioma is mostly diagnosed in people aged over 70. However, over 20% of diagnoses are in people aged 51–60. The disease is rare in people under the age of 50.

Number of people per 100,000 ever diagnosed with mesothelioma, by age group, 2004–12


Mesothelioma registrations

How many people were registered as new cases of mesothelioma in the UK in 2011?

Cancer registration is the collection of population-based data on every new diagnosis of cancer (and mortality and survival from cancer) by a network of cancer registries across the UK.  Data is collected on all patients whether they are treated in hospitals (acute, long stay, hospice or private) or by GPs. The Office for National Statistics collates the data to provide national figures annually.

According to the latest available cancer registration statistics, during 2011 there were 2,570 new cases of mesothelioma in the UK, an incidence rate of 2.8 per 100,000 persons. This is similar to the rate of new diagnoses estimated from GP statistics for recent years. However, GP statistics may underestimate the true incidence of cancer, because the diagnosis may be made in hospital during terminal illness, or post-mortem.

During 2011, 2,172 men and 398 women were registered as new cases of mesothelioma in the UK. These correspond to incidence rates of 5.2 per 100,000 for males and 0.8 per 100,000 for females.


How did rates of registration for mesothelioma vary across the UK in 2011?

England: There were higher rates of registration in the North East and South West compared with the UK generally. In Yorkshire and Humberside and the North East of England, male registration rates were higher than the rate for females. In other regions, notably the East Midlands, East of England, London and the South West of England, female registration rates were higher than the rates for males.

Scotland: There were lower rates of registration in Scotland compared with the UK generally, with a considerably higher registration rate for males compared with the rate for females.

Wales: The registration rate was lower compared with the UK generally, with the rate higher for females.

Northern Ireland: There were similar registration rates compared with the UK generally, with the rate for males lower.

Mesothelioma registration ratios, males and females, in each UK region, 2011

Relative risk of cancer registration for mesothelioma, by local authority district (England, Scotland and Wales), 2010

 © Copyright info

Relative risk is used in medical research to compare risk in different groups of people.  In the maps we show the risk of an area (local authority district) relative to the average for Scotland, England and Wales. Here we show whether the group of people living in a particular area have a rate of admission for mesothelioma that is lower or higher than the average. Because of the way relative risk is calculated there must always be some areas above average and some below average

You can find out how these figures were calculated.


Deaths from mesothelioma

How many people died from mesothelioma in the UK in 2012?

In 2012, 2,431 people in the UK died of mesothelioma. This marks an increase of 13% from 2008. The Health and Safety Executive publishes mesothelioma mortality rates every year. Its data show that the annual number of deaths is now over 2,500 and is continuing to rise.

However, mortality, like incidence, is expected to plateau and begin to decline towards the end of the decade.

UK deaths from mesothelioma compared with other lung diseases, 2012


How many males and females died from mesothelioma in the UK in 2012?

Five times more men than women die of mesothelioma each year.

In 2012, of the 2,431 people who died from mesothelioma, 2,035 were males and 396 were females.


How old were the people who died from mesothelioma in the UK in 2012?

In 2012, of the 2,431 people who died from mesothelioma:

  • 340 were aged 15–64; and
  • 2,091 were aged 65 and above.

How many people died from mesothelioma in each UK region in 2008–12?

England: Mortality is highest in north-east England, followed by the south-east. Mortality rates are also high in certain cities, including Plymouth and Glasgow. This reflects the location of industries, like shipbuilding, in which asbestos was commonly used.

Scotland: The death rate was lower than in the UK generally.

Wales: The death rate was lower than in the UK generally.

Northern Ireland: The death rate was lower than in the UK generally.

Mesothelioma mortality ratios by UK regions, males and females, 2008–12

Relative risk of death from mesothelioma, by local authority district (England, Scotland and Wales), 2008–12

© Copyright info

Relative risk is used in medical research to compare risk in different groups of people.  In the maps we show the risk of an area (local authority district) relative to the average for Scotland, England and Wales. Here we show whether the group of people living in a particular area have a risk of dying from mesothelioma that is lower or higher than the average. Because of the way relative risk is calculated there must always be some areas above average and some below average.

You can find out how these figures were calculated.