Mesothelioma statistics


New cases of mesothelioma, 2012, UK


Deaths from mesothelioma, 2012, UK


Preventable cases of mesothelioma, UK

  • There were around 2,700 new cases of mesothelioma in the UK in 2012, that’s around 7 people every day.
  • Mesothelioma accounts for less than 1% of all new cases in the UK (2012).
  • In men, mesothelioma is the 17th most common cancer in the UK, with around 2,200 cases diagnosed in 2012.
  • In women, there were around 500 cases of mesothelioma diagnosed in the UK in 2012.
  • Mesothelioma is around five times more common in men than in women. 
  • Almost half (47%) of cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed in people aged 75 and over.
  • 7% of mesothelioma cases are diagnosed in those aged under 60.
  • Most mesotheliomas occur in the pleura.
  • Since the late-1970s, mesothelioma incidence rates have increased by almost six-fold (488% increase) in Great Britain.
  • Over the last decade, mesothelioma incidence rates have increased by around a tenth (11%) in the UK.
  • 1 in 140 men and 1 in 710 women will be diagnosed with mesothelioma during their lifetime.

Read more in-depth mesothelioma incidence statistics

  • Around 2,400 people died from mesothelioma in the UK in 2012.
  • More than 8 in 10 mesothelioma deaths in the UK occur in men.
  • Around half of mesothelioma deaths in the UK are in people aged 75 and over.
  • Mesothelioma death rates in Great Britain have increased more than eleven-fold in men and around eight-fold in women since the early 1970s.
  • The number of mesothelioma deaths in Great Britain is expected to peak in 2017-2018 and decline rapidly thereafter. This is due to the changing patterns of exposure to asbestos, the main cause of mesothelioma.

Read more in-depth mesothelioma mortality statistics

  • 94% (97% in males and 83% in females) of mesothelioma cases each year in the UK are linked to major lifestyle and other risk factors.
  • A person’s risk of developing mesothelioma depends on many factors, including age, genetics, and exposure to risk factors (including some potentially avoidable lifestyle factors).
  • Asbestos is the main potentially avoidable risk factor for mesothelioma, linked to an estimated 94% of mesothelioma cases in the UK.
  • Other factors may relate to mesothelioma risk but have generally not been studied extensively or with sufficient adjustment for possible past asbestos exposure.

Read more in-depth mesothelioma risk factors

  • Emergency presentation is the most common route to diagnosis of mesothelioma.
  • ‘Two-week wait’ standards are met by all countries, ‘31-day wait’ is met by all but Northern Ireland, and ‘62-day wait’ is not met by any country for lung cancer.
  • Around 9 in 10 patients had a ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’ patient experience.
  • More than 9 in 10 patients are given the name of their Clinical Nurse Specialist.

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The latest statistics available for mesothelioma are; incidence 2012, and mortality 2012. Reliable survival data for the UK is currently not available.

The ICD code Open a glossary item for mesothelioma is ICD-10 C45.

European Age-Standardised Rates were calculated using the 1976 European Standard Population (ESP) unless otherwise stated as calculated with ESP2013. ASRs calculated with ESP2013 are not comparable with ASRs calculated with ESP1976.

Lifetime risk estimates were calculated using incidence, mortality, population and all-cause mortality data for 2012 for males and 2010-2012 for females due to the small number of cases.

Mortality trends data are taken from the mesothelioma register, a database maintained by the Health and Safety Executive, comprising all deaths in Great Britain that mention 'mesothelioma' anywhere on the death certificate. This is the most reliable source of information on mesothelioma mortality, because it is  compiled by tracking incident mesothelioma cases and additionally checking national death data. Prior to the ICD-10 coding system, which assigns mesothelioma a specific code, mesothelioma deaths were coded according to their anatomical site and therefore often confused with lung and other cancers.

Meta-analyses Open a glossary item and systematic reviews Open a glossary item are cited where available, as they provide the best overview of all available research and most take study quality into account. Individual case-control  and cohort studies Open a glossary item are reported where such aggregated data are lacking.

Routes to diagnosis statistics were calculated from cases of cancer registered in England which were diagnosed in 2006-2010.

Cancer waiting times statistics are for patients who entered the health care system within financial year 2014-15. Mesothelioma is part of the group 'Lung cancer' for cancer waiting times data. Codes vary per country but broadly include: trachea, bronchus and lung, thymus, heart, mediastinum and pleura, other and ill-defined sites of the respiratory system, mesothelioma, secondary cancers of the mediastinum, pleura or other and unspecified respiratory organs. 

Patient Experience data is for adult patients in England with a primary diagnosis of cancer, who were in active treatment between September and November 2013 and who completed a survey in 2014.


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We would like to acknowledge the essential work of the cancer registries in the United Kingdom and Ireland Association of Cancer Registries, without which there would be no data.

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