Global incidence of mesothelioma on the decline

The global incidence of mesothelioma has been declining in recent years, according to a study published in the Journal of Thoracic Oncology.

The study also showed differences in mesothelioma incidence by gender, asbestos exposure, and countries’ gross domestic product and Human Development Index (HDI).

For this study, researchers first used data from the Global Cancer Observatory (GLOBOCAN) database to determine the incidence of mesothelioma in 185 countries in 2020.

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A total of 30,870 mesothelioma cases were reported in 2020, giving an age-standardized overall incidence of 0.30 cases per 100,000 people.

The highest rates of mesothelioma were observed in Northern Europe (1.4 cases per 100,000 people) and Australia/New Zealand (1.3 cases). The lowest rates were observed in the Caribbean (0.05 cases), East Africa (0.06 cases), West Africa (0.06 cases), and Central Africa (0.07 cases).

Researchers also used the Global Burden of Disease database to assess mesothelioma risk factors. They found a higher incidence of mesothelioma in countries with a higher HDI (P<0.001), higher GDP per capita (P<0.001), and higher asbestos exposure (P<0.001).

There was also a difference in the incidence of mesothelioma by gender. The incidence was 0.46 cases per 100,000 people in men and 0.17 cases per 100,000 people in women.

Finally, the researchers used the Cancer Incidence in Five Continents Plus database to determine the mean annual percentage change (AAPC) in mesothelioma incidence from 2003 to 2012 in 108 countries.

The data showed a significant decrease in the incidence of mesothelioma in some countries with a higher HDI, including Australia (AAPC, -1.54; P=0.001), the United States (AAPC, -1.75; P=0.007), Norway (AAPC, -1.94; P=0.023) and Germany (AAPC, -4.11; P=0.001). However, there was an increasing trend in Korea (AAPC, 3.24; P=0.045).

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Among countries with a lower HDI, there was a significant increase in mesothelioma incidence for Bulgaria (AAPC, 5.56; P=0.001) and a significant decrease in incidence for Brazil (AAPC, -13.08; P=0.001).

“Overall, there has been a significant decrease in mesothelioma trends, particularly in highly developed countries, which is likely due to the total ban on asbestos use in some countries,” the researchers wrote.


Huang J, Chan SC, Pang WS, et al. Global incidence, risk factors, and trends over time of mesothelioma: A population-based study. J Thorac Oncol. Published online February 9, 2023. doi:10.1016/j.jtho.2023.01.095