Mesothelioma is a rare but aggressive form of cancer found on the lining of the lungs, heart, and abdomen. Unlike other types of cancer, malignant mesothelioma has only one known cause - asbestos exposure.

Although this material is no longer permitted in new buildings, many people still come in contact with it through their work. 

Here, we’re going to take a closer look at the most vital mesothelioma statistics that can help clarify the issue around this rare but still highly impactful disease. We’ll explore mesothelioma causes, prognosis, incidence, survival rates, and much more.

If you’re interested in learning more about this particular kind of cancer, then read on for more stats and facts.

Mesothelioma Statistics Worth Knowing (Editor’s Pick)

  • 3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year.
  • The average life expectancy for a patient with mesothelioma is 12 to 22 months.
  • Men are 4.6 times more likely to be diagnosed with mesothelioma than women.
  • The average treatment cost for mesothelioma is $41,102.
  • Asbestos exposure is the No. 1 cause of work-related deaths worldwide.
  • The U.S. imported over 803,000 tons of asbestos in a year.
  • About 43,000 people around the world die from mesothelioma every year.

1. There are about 3,000 new mesothelioma cases diagnosed in the U.S. each year.

Fortunately, mesothelioma incidence in the country has been decreasing over the past decades. But this doesn’t mean that the risk of developing the disease is completely gone. In fact, 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed every year in America. Studies also estimated that at least 20 million people could develop the disease.

2. The average age at the time of a mesothelioma diagnosis is 72.

On average, a patient is first diagnosed with the condition as late as their early 70s. This means that some retirement plans may not go according to schedule, unfortunately, as what retirement statistics say so.

There is a range of factors for this, but the latency period of the condition is the main one. This represents the gap in time between someone’s exposure to asbestos and when the cancer is first diagnosed.

Below is another statistic that supports the above finding.

3. 59% of mesothelioma patients are diagnosed during the later stages of the disease, statistics for people with mesothelioma show.

One of the reasons why mesothelioma deaths per year are relatively higher compared with other cancers is due to how often the cancer is found in a late stage. As we mentioned, mesothelioma has a very long latency period, in part because many people were kept in the dark about the dangers of the condition for decades.

To make matters worse, many of the most characteristic pleural mesothelioma symptoms, such as difficulty in breathing, chest wall pain, and fever, do not occur until the cancer is in its advanced stages. 

As a result, over half of patients are diagnosed during the later stages of mesothelioma. In fact, a massive 77% of patients are diagnosed too late to qualify for surgical treatments, which diminishes their chances of surviving the diagnosis.

4. The average life expectancy for a patient with mesothelioma is 12 to 22 months.

The mesothelioma mortality rate can differ based on a range of things. For instance, a patient’s age at the time of diagnosis plays a role, as younger people who are diagnosed with the condition tend to live longer. 

Moreover, the average survival rate of mesothelioma also differs depending on which type of condition the patient has.

On average, however, the life expectancy of someone diagnosed with mesothelioma is shockingly low, and that the majority of people who get it do not live longer than two years.

5. Men are 4.6 times more likely to be diagnosed with mesothelioma.

As we will see in a moment, the incidence of mesothelioma is mostly influenced by exposure to asbestos, which is often determined by occupation. Men are more likely to work jobs where they are in contact with the material. As a result, men comprise 80% of all cases, as indicated by the SEER Cancer Statistics Review.

6. Only 10% is the overall 5-year survival rate for mesothelioma patients.

The primary reason for this relatively low mesothelioma survival rate is the fact that the disease is usually diagnosed at a late stage when the cancer has already spread to certain parts of the patient’s body. 

The 5-year survival rate will be two times higher if the cancer is diagnosed earlier at a localized stage. On the other hand, when the cancer has spread to father body parts, the patient will only have an 8% 5-year survival rate. 

7. There are at least 2,500 mesothelioma deaths per year.

If you will notice, this number of patients dying of mesothelioma annually is almost the same as the number of new cases each year. That said, we can safely assume that almost 100% of the new cases ended in death. Again, this would support further our earlier statistic regarding the low survival rate for this type of disease.   

8. On average, the treatment for mesothelioma costs around $41,102.

Apart from looking at the chances of getting mesothelioma or the mesothelioma death statistics, it’s also important to consider the costs related to mesothelioma to understand the potential impact of the condition on people. 

According to a study on cost-effectiveness, the routine first-line mesothelioma chemotherapy treatment can cost more than $41,000 on average. However, chemotherapy is not the only treatment for cancer, so other treatments must be factored in as well. 

For patients with Medicare, for instance, the median cost of a course of radiation therapy is $9,000. Meanwhile, surgery to treat pleural mesothelioma can cost around $40,000.

9. The average settlement for a mesothelioma trial is between $1 million and $1.4 million based on mesothelioma and asbestos exposure lawsuit statistics.

There is no guarantee that a mesothelioma trial claim will go to trial. However, in cases where that has happened, and a jury has determined the defendant to be guilty, the average settlement is around $2.4 million. When the matter is settled out of court, the average settlement is considerably lower, between $1 million to $1.4 million.

There are different factors that can affect a claim and how much money can be expected from either a settlement or an award, of course. So, not everyone who reaches a settlement during a mesothelioma case should expect the kind of figure mentioned above. 

Gripping Mesothelioma Facts and Statistics

10. Mesothelioma is most commonly found in the lungs, mesothelioma statistics show.

When the cancer affects the pleura (the tissue surrounding the lungs), this results in pleural mesothelioma. This type of the disease accounts for 70-79% of all cases, and it also has a higher mesothelioma death rate. 

By comparison, the cancer is in the peritoneum in 10-30% of cases. The peritoneal mesothelioma survival rate is higher, however, so the rarer condition could make for a better prognosis.

So, what are the specific rates of survival? Let’s find out below.

11. For peritoneal mesothelioma, it’s 39% over 10 years while pleural mesothelioma survival rate is 4.7% over 10 years.

As we can see, pleural mesothelioma has a very low survival rate. Moreover, the pleural mesothelioma prognosis is much worse than the peritoneal one.

In terms of the latency period, pleural mesothelioma is between 30 and 60 years. For peritoneal mesothelioma, it is reduced to 20 to 40 years.

As additional information, there is an initial mesothelioma cancer survival rate of 73% for the first year. These mesothelioma survival rates plummet to 23% for 3 years, 12% for 5 years, and 4.7% for 10 years.

12. Pericardial and testicular mesothelioma account for fewer than 2% of all cases.

Fewer than 2 in 100 cases involve the pericardial and testicular mesothelioma. That said, we’ll be focusing on the other two kinds mentioned in the previous statistic. 

For instance, there are only 200 documented cases of pericardial mesothelioma, which is when the cancer affects the walls of the heart. 

13. The survival rate of women with pleural mesothelioma is three times higher than men.

How long a person who’s diagnosed with mesothelioma lives depends on many factors, one of which is age. But aside from that, research also found gender as an essential factor. A 2014 study revealed that after treatment, 13.4% of women with mesothelioma survive for five years, while there’s only 4.5% of men. This means that men are not only more likely to develop mesothelioma, but also their survival rate is too slim compared with women diagnosed with the condition. 

Now, let’s try to factor in age.

14. Women are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed at an age earlier than 65 compared to men.

Although women have lower incidence rates and higher rates of survival, they tend to be diagnosed with the condition at an earlier age. For example, statistics of mesothelioma cases from 2009-2013 show that there were more women diagnosed with mesothelioma between ages 35 and 39 as compared to men in this age bracket.

However, upon reaching the age of 85 and beyond, the incidence for women is highest. On the other hand, men in this category only represent 19.1 cases per 100,000.

15. Black Americans have a lower mesothelioma incidence rate than whites.

Race can also influence mesothelioma rates. Data show that from 2005-2014, the rate for black Americans was at 0.5 new cases per 100,000. This is much lower than that of the white Americans which is at 1 case per 100,000.

In a separate report, black men diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma were found to live longer than white men. This is despite being less likely to undergo aggressive surgery, which is the best treatment for the cancer.   

Intriguing Asbestos Facts

16. Up to 1 in 10 people with prolonged exposure to asbestos develop mesothelioma.

Because it’s not easy to figure out who has been exposed to asbestos in their lifetime and when, it can be challenging factoring how many people develop mesothelioma due to that exposure.

Not only that asbestos exposure causes cancer and many other serious illnesses but also is the top cause of deaths related to work in the world. Many scientific studies have confirmed that asbestos exposure can lead to both cancerous and non-cancerous diseases. 

Taking a look at asbestos related diseases statistics, we can see mesothelioma topping the list of cancerous illnesses. Adding to the list are lung cancer, ovarian cancer, and laryngeal cancer.

Meanwhile, non-cancerous conditions include asbestosis, pleuritis, pleural effusions, pleural plaques, diffuse pleural thickening, and atelectasis.

A 2018 study that includes asbestos deaths statistics reported that, somewhere in the world, a person dies of asbestos-related illnesses whenever 20 tons of asbestos are produced and consumed. Currently, the global consumption of asbestos is over 2 million tons each year. Taking this into consideration, it’s making more sense now why asbestos exposure is the leading cause of work-related deaths in the world.    

18. The U.S. imported over 803,000 tons of asbestos in a year.

Since exposure to asbestos is the only known cause of mesothelioma, it’s important to look at the asbestos statistics to understand why we continue to see a consistent incidence rate for mesothelioma. 

Now, the U.S. has a long history of using asbestos. Even though researchers had published studies about the health risks of the material in as far back as the 1920s, over 803,000 tons of the material was imported into the country as late as 1973.

There’s good news, though:

Asbestos use is nowhere near as common as it used to be. 340 pounds (0.15 ton) of the material were imported in 2016, while over 25.6 million pounds were disposed of in 2015 alone. To cap it off, the last asbestos mine in the U.S. was closed in 2002.

19. Women and children are highly at risk of secondary exposure to asbestos.

It’s given that workers who are in close contact with asbestos have the highest chances of getting mesothelioma from asbestos exposure. They include the miners, plumbers, insulators, power plant workers, firefighters, construction workers, and the like. 

Here’s the bad news.

There is such a thing as secondary exposure to asbestos, and it is the cause for a significant number of mesothelioma cases among women and children. When family members who have been exposed to asbestos come home, they might have asbestos fibers on their hair, clothes, or other body parts. This exposes their spouses and children to asbestos indirectly. 

Secondary asbestos exposure has risks similar to primary exposure. It can also cause mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis, which, according to asbestosis statistics, has recorded 178 deaths in 2011.

Mesothelioma Statistics Worldwide

20. Every year, about 43,000 people around the world die from mesothelioma.

While this figure is only an estimate, it gives us an idea that mesothelioma cancer is experienced globally. For example, the annual combined mesothelioma cases in North America, Australia, Western Europe, were estimated at 10,000. 

Many countries have also reported an increase in mesothelioma diagnosis yearly. The highest number of diagnoses were from the countries of the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Malta, the Netherlands, Australia, and Belgium.

In a recent study, the estimated mesothelioma deaths per year were 38,400 per year worldwide. This indicates a decline from the previous estimate. It’s also a good indication that fewer people were dying of mesothelioma disease lately.   

21. Asbestos has been banned in more than 60 countries.

Due to the alarming rise in the number of individuals diagnosed with mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases across the globe, many countries vowed to ban the toxic mineral. This move has perhaps contributed to the decline in the number of mesothelioma deaths discussed previously.

Despite the banning,  many countries still report incidences of mesothelioma due to the extended latency period of the disease. Thus, many countries are pushing for a global asbestos ban.

The Wrap Up

Despite the fact that asbestos use has diminished dramatically in the U.S. over the past few decades, we will be dealing with the effects of mesothelioma for decades to come. The stats suggest that we have already reached peak asbestos cancer rates. But there are still workers coming in contact with asbestos today, so it’s uncertain when we will finally be free from it.

As the stats above show, mesothelioma is a rare cancer, but an extremely aggressive one. Its danger is only compounded by the fact that it is rarely diagnosed during the early stages. In most cases, people are diagnosed with it when they are no longer able to choose more effective surgical options.

Hopefully, the mesothelioma diagnosis statistics and lifespan stats above highlight the ongoing seriousness of this disease. Even though asbestos is no longer used in the workplace, we all need to be aware of how widespread this type of cancer is and what its symptoms and the mesothelioma survival rates are.