Mesothelioma Statistics

We can learn a lot about mesothelioma by reviewing and understanding statistics about the disease. Statistical analysis allows us to identify trends, determine prognosis, evaluate treatment strategies and more. Stats help us understand cancer and combined data gives us fresh insight into mesothelioma. The following mesothelioma statistics are sources from government and global health agencies, as well as respected cancer research publications.

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Fast Facts About Mesothelioma

  • Mesothelioma develops 10-50 years after asbestos exposure
  • 3,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year
  • 2,600 people die from mesothelioma in the U.S. each year
  • An estimated 43,000 people worldwide lose their lives to mesothelioma every year

Mesothelioma Trends in the U.S.

A review of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data from 1999 to 2015 reveals that a total of 45,221 American death certificates during that period recorded malignant mesothelioma as a factor, while 42,470 of those certificates cited mesothelioma as the underlying cause of death.

The number of mesothelioma-related deaths increased from 2,479 deaths in 1995 to 2,597 deaths 10 years later.

These increases typically occurred in individuals over 85 years of age and those diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma. This increase occurred at the same time overall age-related deaths decreased, indicating that mesothelioma is, in fact, a rising problem for the United States.

By contrast, instances of mesothelioma deaths in people aged 35 to 64, and those diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma, have declined.

While this may seem encouraging, the decline does not mean mesothelioma has been eradicated. Continued mesothelioma diagnoses and deaths within this age cohort suggest that people are still exposed to and impacted by asbestos and other mesothelioma risk factors in their ongoing occupational or recreational environments.

Diagnosis Statistics of Mesothelioma

According to the American Cancer Society, 10% of individuals diagnosed with mesothelioma between 2006 and 2012 had a 5-year survival rate, for people 20 years of age and older.

Their data also reveals that men are 4 times more likely to be diagnosed with mesothelioma than women, likely due to occupational exposure to asbestos.

Roughly 80% of mesothelioma cases are pleural while approximately 20% are peritoneal. Less than 1% of all cases are attributed to pericardial mesothelioma.

Of the individuals diagnosed with mesothelioma in the United States, the stage distribution is as follows:

  • 9% local (stage 1)
  • 14% regional (stage 2)
  • 65% distant (stages 3 and 4)
  • 12% unknown

Mesothelioma has the highest instance of late-stage diagnosis of any regularly reviewed rare cancer, which may directly correlate to mesothelioma’s grim prognosis. Like most cancers, mesothelioma has the best outcomes when caught in its earliest stages.

Non-Hispanic white individuals are the most likely people to develop mesothelioma, with an instance rate of 1.5 people per 100,000. Hispanic people had the second highest diagnosis rate, with 1 in every 100,000 people over the age of 20 developing the disease.

Non-Hispanic black individuals and Asian/Pacific Islanders were least likely to be diagnosed with mesothelioma, accounting for 0.7 cases per 100,000 people and 0.5 cases per 100,000 people, respectively. One of the conclusions drawn from these statistics is that non-Hispanic white people are twice as likely to develop mesothelioma than non-Hispanic black people or Asian/Pacific Islanders.

Efficacy of Diagnostic Tests

Diagnostic techniques are not all equal. Cytology tests (testing fluid samples), often favored because they are fast, inexpensive, and less invasive, are significantly less effective at diagnosing mesothelioma than histology tests (testing tumor tissue samples).

  • 32% of cytology tests on patients will accurately diagnose mesothelioma
  • 56% of cytology tests on mesothelioma patients will suggest the correct diagnosis
  • 98% of histology tests will accurately diagnose mesothelioma

Because of histology test’s high accuracy rate, it’s the best test for confirming a mesothelioma diagnosis.

Prognosis and Survival Rates

The median survival for mesothelioma patients is 11 months, but each prognosis is impacted by the mesothelioma location, stage and cell type.

Mesothelioma Justice Network Brief

Untreated mesothelioma is typically fatal within 4 to 8 months of diagnosis. However, patients can greatly increase their prognosis with trimodal treatment. In fact, mesothelioma patients who have received trimodal therapies typically survive 16 to 19 months.

Prognosis by Location

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), and backed by many other sources, the location of mesothelioma has a direct impact on the likelihood of diagnosis.

In a study of reported deaths, WHO stated that:

  • Pleural mesotelioma accounts for 41.3% of reported mesothelioma deaths
  • Peritoneal mesothelioma is responsible for 4.5% of reported mesothelioma deaths
  • 0.3% of reported mesothelioma deaths were from pericardial mesothelioma
  • 43.1% of reported mesothelioma deaths did not have a specified location

Prognosis By Stage

Mesothelioma patients who received trimodal treatment had varying prognoses, depending on the stage of their mesothelioma.

For mesothelioma patients administered trimodal therapies, the median survival rates are as follows:

  • Overall median survival is 17 months
  • Stage 1 median survival is 22 months
  • Stage 2 median survival is 17 months
  • Stage 3 median survival is 11 months

The American Cancer Society has also published statistics on the 2- and 5-year survival rates of people diagnosed with various stages of mesothelioma. Those rates are as follows:

Stage2-year survival5-year survival
Stage IA46%16%
Stage IB41%13%
Stage II38%10%
Stage IIIA30%8%
Stage IIIB26%5%
Stage IV17%<1%

Prognosis By Cell Type

Cell type statistics indicate that individuals with epithelial mesothelioma have a higher prognosis than those with sarcomatoid or biphasic mesothelioma.

The median survival length for each mesothelioma cell type is as follows:

The European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer and the Cancer and Leukemia Group B have both identified several factors that impact a patient’s prognosis.

The following factors are linked to a poor overall prognosis:

  • Over 75 years of age
  • Male
  • Chest pain
  • Weight loss
  • Sarcomatoid or biphasic cell type
  • Performance status of 2+
  • High platelet counts
  • High white cell count
  • Low hemoglobin levels
  • Lactate dehydrogenase level above 500 IU/L

Prognosis With Surgery

While the pleurectomy with decortication (P/D) surgical procedure for pleural mesothelioma can be highly effective for some patients, the statistics tell us it’s not right for everyone.

In a review of 64 pleural mesothelioma patients who underwent P/D, the following was determined:

  • Epithelioid mesothelioma has a median survival rate of 21.7 months
  • 46% five-year survival rate for epithelioid mesothelioma patients
  • Sarcomatoid and biphasic mesothelioma has a median survival rate of 5.3 months
  • 14% five-year survival rate for all forms of mesothelioma
  • 50% recurrence rate for patients with mesothelioma tumors

Comparing those stats to the typical median survival rates, you can see that epithelial mesothelioma patients can greatly extend their survival rate through surgery.

By contrast, sarcomatoid and biphasic mesothelioma patients reduced their rate of survival after receiving the surgery, often due to complications from the surgery itself. There were many causes of death for these patients, including wound infection, prolonged intubation, respiratory failure and postoperative bleeding.

Studies that reviewed the difference between pleurectomy with decortication versus extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) concluded that P/D and EPP surgeries have statistically similar 2-year survival rates. However, short-term deaths within 30 days of surgery occurred in 1.7% P/D patients, compared to 4.5% of EPP patients.

International Mesothelioma Statistics

Mesothelioma is not isolated to the United States. Because asbestos was a popular commodity, mesothelioma is a global epidemic. Fifty-five countries have banned the mining and use of asbestos, but many others have not and asbestos continues to be produced across the globe.

The highest rates of mesothelioma occur in the following European and Oceanic countries:

  • Australia — 3.2 per 100,000 men
  • Belgium — 2.0 per 100,000 men
  • Malta — 1.06 per 100,000 men
  • The Netherlands — 2.85 per 100,000 men
  • New Zealand — 2.5 per 100,000 men
  • United Kingdom — 3.6 per 100,000 men

Like the United States, these countries have a much higher mesothelioma rate in men than women.

To learn more about seeking justice for your mesothelioma diagnosis, contact our Justice Support team today.

Author:Stephanie Kidd

Editor-in-Chief of the Mesothelioma Justice Network

Stephanie Kidd

Stephanie Kidd works tirelessly as a dedicated advocate for the vulnerable and underrepresented. Stephanie worked as a copywriter for an agency whose focus was communicating safety procedures on construction work sites. With her extensive background in victim advocacy and a dedication to seeing justice done, Stephanie works hard to ensure that all online content is reliable, truthful and helpful.

Last modified: January 23, 2020

View 8 Sources
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Malignant Mesothelioma Mortality – United States, 1995 - 2015.” Retrieved from Accessed on January 17, 2018.
  2. American Cancer Society. “Cancer Facts & Figures 2017.” Retrieved from Accessed on January 17, 2018.
  3. World Health Organization. “Global mesothelioma deaths reported to the World Health Organization between 1994 and 2008.“ Retrieved from Accessed on January 17, 2018.
  4. American Cancer Society. “Survival Statistics for Mesothelioma.” Accessed on January 17, 2017. Retrieved from Accessed on January 17, 2018.
  5. MedScape. “Mesothelioma: Prognosis.” Retrieved from Accessed on January 17, 2018.
  6. MedScape. “Mesothelioma Workup.” Retrieved from Accessed on January 17, 2018.
  7. MedScape. “Mesothelioma Treatment & Management.” Retrieved from Accessed on January 17, 2018.
  8. Indian Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine. “Global mesothelioma epidemic: Trend and features.” Retrieved from Accessed on January 17, 2018.
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