The Safe Work Australia Council posted a new report on mesothelioma at their inaugural June 10th meeting in Sydney. The report, titled “Mesothelioma in Australia: Incidence 1982 to 2005, Deaths 1997 to 2006,” suggests that new incidences of mesothelioma are not expected to peak until after 2010. Specifically, the report predicts that the peak will occur sometime between 2014 and 2017.
Mesothelioma is a rare type of lung cancer that is associated with the inhalation of asbestos. Asbestos is a natural fiber that is frequently used in construction, automotive and other products. When inhaled, the asbestos fibers become lodged in the lungs. Over time, this results in scarring and the formation of cancerous cells in the lung walls.
Though the safe production, use and control of asbestos has been dramatically improved in Australia over the years, the continued growth of mesothelioma incidence rates can be attributed to the long latency period of the disease. In many cases, symptoms of mesothelioma do not manifest until 20 to 50 years following initial asbestos exposure. This means that many aging Australians are still manifesting the disease from exposure that occurred prior to the initiation of Australian asbestos regulation.
Australia has been tracking the number of new mesothelioma cases in the country since 1982. Between the years of 1982 and 2005, the number of new mesothelioma cases rose from 156 to 597. This number is expected to continue to rise through at least 2014.
Additional statistics cited in the report include:
- 80 to 90 percent of all new mesothelioma cases in Australia were reported in men
- Age standardization of mesothelioma cases rose from 1.2 per 100,000 in 1982 to 2.8 per 100,000 in 2005
- Mesothelioma death rates rose between the years of 1997 and 2006, with a maximum of 545 in 2004
Source: OHS Online