Mesothelioma patients are living longer after diagnosis, despite rising death rate

Mesothelioma is a rare, aggressive type of cancer with no cure. However, the latest data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) suggests survival is improving.

The report, Mesothelioma in Australia 2019, shows that at 1 April 2020, 659 cases of mesothelioma diagnosed in 2019 had been reported to the Australian Mesothelioma Registry, which is managed by the AIHW.

‘Mesothelioma is predominantly caused by exposure to asbestos. Despite all forms of asbestos being banned in Australia from 2004, hundreds of Australians continue to be diagnosed with mesothelioma every year,’ said AIHW spokesperson Mr Justin Harvey.

The death rate from mesothelioma has risen in recent years, from 1.9 deaths per 100,000 people in 2012, to 2.9 per 100,000 in 2019. The increased death rate in 2019 largely reflects changes in historical exposure to asbestos because the disease takes many years to develop and cause symptoms.

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