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Global Mesothelioma Figures Analyzed for First Time by IARC

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has released global mesothelioma figures for the first time. The report is based on the GLOBOCAN database, which estimates the incidence of, mortality and prevalence of 36 types of cancer and for all cancers combined in 185 countries around the world.

According to the report, the number of new mesothelioma cases diagnosed in 2018 was 30,443. The number of deaths from the disease totaled 25,576. Mesothelioma incidence was 21,662 for males and 8,781 for females.

Mesothelioma is a rare but serious cancer that usually starts in the lungs, but it can also start in the abdomen, heart or testicles. While mesothelioma can be caused by exposure to asbestos in any environment, many people diagnosed with the disease have worked on jobs where they inhaled asbestos particles. Jobs with a high risk of asbestos exposure include construction worker, pipe fitter, firefighter, factory worker, industrial worker, boiler worker, shipyard worker, and auto mechanic. However, asbestos can also be found in buildings, schools, homes, churches, automobiles, trains, and ships.

After exposure to asbestos, it can take decades for symptoms of mesothelioma to develop. Symptoms include trouble breathing, pain under the rib cage, pain, swelling, or lumps in the abdomen, and weight loss for no known reason. Due to the long latency period between first exposure and the development of symptoms, mesothelioma is often diagnosed in its later stages, making it more difficult to treat. There is no cure for the disease, but treatment may include surgery, radiation, and/or chemotherapy.

The number of new mesothelioma cases will likely increase in the coming years to decades, despite a ban on certain asbestos-containing products such as flooring felt, rollboard, and corrugated, commercial, or specialty paper. Why? It is still legal to use asbestos in any other product and imports of the toxic mineral are on the rise.

U.S. imports of asbestos increased nearly 75% from $654,535 to $1.14 million through the first 11 months of 2018 when compared to the same period the previous year. Around 272 metric tons of asbestos was imported in August 2018 alone, bringing the year’s total to more than 550 tons.

If you have been exposed to asbestos, see your doctor right away. Though many cases are diagnosed in the later stages of the disease, thanks to raised awareness and new testing methods, early detection is now possible. See your doctor to assess your risk today.



"Asbestos Global: Is Asbestos Banned in the US?" Asbestos Global, 29 Mar. 2016. Web. 03 Mar. 2019.

Bray, Freddie, Isabelle Soerjomataram and Jacques Ferlay. "Global cancer statistics 2018: GLOBOCAN estimates of incidence and mortality worldwide for 36 cancers in 185 countries." Wiley Online Library. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 09 Sep. 2018. Web. 03 Mar. 2019.

"GLOBOCAN." International Association of Cancer Registries (IACR). International Agency for Research on Cancer, 2019. Web. 03 Mar. 2019.

"Imports: Asbestos." US TradeNumbers, WorldCity, Inc., 2019. Web. 03 Mar. 2019.

“Mesothelioma.” NIH: National Cancer Institute, 18 Dec. 2018. Web. 03 Mar. 2019.

"NGOs report spike in US asbestos imports." Chemical Watch, 13 Nov. 2018. Web. 03 Mar. 2019.