Malignant mesothelioma in Australia 2015: Current incidence and asbestos exposure trends.

Research paper by Matthew J MJ Soeberg, James J Leigh, Nico N van Zandwijk

Indexed on: 06 Oct '16Published on: 06 Oct '16Published in: Journal of toxicology and environmental health. Part B, Critical reviews


Australia is known to have had the highest per-capita asbestos consumption level of any nation, reaching a peak in the 1970s. Although crocidolite was effectively banned in the late 1960s, and amosite use ceased in the mid 1980s, a complete asbestos ban was not implemented until 2003. This resulted in an epidemic of asbestos-related disease, which has only now reached its peak. Between 1982 and 2011, 13,036 individuals were newly diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, with 690 diagnosed in 2011. A further 778 cases were identified between 1945 and 1981 from retrospective searches and the first 2 years of the Australian Mesothelioma Program. The age-standardized malignant mesothelioma incidence rate has leveled off in the last 10 years (2.8 per 100,000 in 2011). There has been a marked increase over time in the age-specific incidence rates for individuals aged 75 years or older. Data from the current Australian Mesothelioma Registry on asbestos exposure history in Australia is available for 449 subjects diagnosed between July 1, 2010, and April 1, 2015. This asbestos exposure history data show that 60% (n = 268) of cases had probable or possible occupational asbestos exposure, with trade-based jobs being the most frequent sources of occupational asbestos exposure. In addition, out of the 449 cases, 377 were recorded as having probable or possible nonoccupational asbestos exposure. Continuous vigilance toward changes over time in the settings in which people are exposed to asbestos and in the descriptive epidemiology of malignant mesothelioma is recommended to enable a comprehensive understanding of the current and future impact of asbestos-related diseases in Australia.