Mesothelioma risk

Preventable cases

Mesothelioma cases are preventable, UK, 2015

 

Asbestos

Mesothelioma cases caused by workplace exposures, UK, 2015

 

The estimated lifetime risk of being diagnosed with mesothelioma is 1 in 212 (less than 1%) for males, and 1 in 963 (less than 1%) for females born after 1960 in the UK.[1]

These figures have been calculated on the assumption that the possibility of having more than one diagnosis of mesothelioma over the course of a lifetime is very low (‘Current Probability’ method).[2]

References

  1. Lifetime risk estimates calculated by the Statistical Information Team at Cancer Research UK. Based on Office for National Statistics (ONS) 2016-based Life expectancies and population projections. Accessed December 2017, and Smittenaar CR, Petersen KA, Stewart K, Moitt N. Cancer Incidence and Mortality Projections in the UK Until 2035. Brit J Cancer 2016. 
  2. Esteve J, Benhamou E and Raymond L. Descriptive epidemiology. IARC Scientific Publications No.128, Lyon, International Agency for Research on Cancer, pp 67-68 1994. 

About this data

Data is for UK, past and projected cancer incidence and mortality and all-cause mortality rates for those born in 1961, ICD-10 C45.

The calculations used past and projected cancer incidence and mortality and all-cause mortality rates for those born in 1961 to project risk over the lifetime of those born in 1961 (cohort method).[1] Projections are based on observed incidence and mortality rates and therefore implicitly include changes in cancer risk factors, diagnosis and treatment.

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94% of mesothelioma cases in the UK are preventable.[1]

Mesothelioma risk is associated with a number of risk factors.[2,3]

Mesothelioma Risk Factors

  Increases risk Decreases risk
'Sufficient' or 'convincing' evidence
  • Asbestos (all forms)
  • Erionite
  • Fluoro-edenite
  • Painting
 
'Limited' or 'Probable' evidence    

International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classification. World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research (WCRF/AICR) classification does not include mesothelioma because it is not generally recognised to have a relationship to food, nutrition, and physical activity.

See also

Want to generate bespoke preventable cancers stats statements? Download our interactive statement generator.

Find out more about the counting and coding of this data

Learn how attributable risk is calculated

References

  1. Brown KF, Rumgay H, Dunlop C, et al. The fraction of cancer attributable to known risk factors in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and the UK overall in 2015. British Journal of Cancer 2018.
  2. International Agency for Research on Cancer. List of Classifications by cancer sites with sufficient or limited evidence in humans, Volumes 1 to 122*. Accessed October 2018.
  3. World Cancer Research Fund / American Institute for Cancer Research. Continuous Update Project Findings & Reports. Accessed October 2016.
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International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies the role of this risk factor in cancer development.[1] Asbestos exposure causes around 97% of mesothelioma cases in men, and around 83% in women in Great Britain, it is estimated.[2]

Asbestos exposure typically occurs in the workplace. Before the use and supply of asbestos was fully banned in the UK in the late 1990s, most exposures occurred in asbestos mining and manufacturing, and industries where asbestos was heavily used (for example shipbuilding and construction); today, most exposures are likely to occur when asbestos already in place is disturbed (for example during building maintenance).[2] Less common sources of exposure include paraoccupational/household (asbestos fibres brought into the home by exposed workers e.g. on work clothing), domestic/neighbourhood (living near an asbestos mine or production facility, or asbestos materials in the home releasing fibres due to everyday disturbance), and environmental (naturally-occurring asbestos in soil).[3] Mesothelioma incidence today reflects asbestos exposure many years ago, because there is a prolonged latency period.[4-6]

Occupational exposure

Occupational exposure is associated with a 14-fold increase in mesothelioma risk, a large British cohort study showed.[7] Age at first occupational asbestos exposure may modify the risk, however evidence on this remains unclear, a systematic review showed.[8]

Paraoccupational/household exposure

Paraoccupational/household asbestos exposure is associated with an increase in mesothelioma risk of between five- and eight-fold, meta-analyses have shown.[9,10] However a British case-control study reported a lesser effect, with risk doubled in paraoccupationally exposed people.[11] Age at paraoccupational/household asbestos exposure may modify the risk but evidence is unclear, a systematic review showed.[8]

Domestic/neighbourhood exposure

Domestic/neighbourhood asbestos exposure is associated with a seven-fold increased mesothelioma risk, a meta-analysis showed.[10] However findings are heterogeneous between studies, and a British case-control study found no increased risk in people living within a mile of a potential source of environmental exposure, or in those living in buildings potentially containing asbestos.[11]

UK portrait version shown here. Country versions, cancers caused by other risk factors, and landscape formats are available for free from our cancer risk publications.

References

  1. International Agency for Research on Cancer. List of Classifications by cancer sites with sufficient or limited evidence in humans, Volumes 1 to 122*. Accessed October 2018.
  2. Brown T, Darnton A, Fortunato L, et al. Occupational cancer in Britain. Respiratory cancer sites: larynx, lung and mesothelioma. Br J Cancer 2012;107 Suppl 1:S56-70.
  3. Goldberg M, Luce D. The health impact of nonoccupational exposure to asbestos: what do we know? Eur J Cancer Prev 2009;18(6):489-503.
  4. Yates DH, Corrin B, Stidolph PN, et al. Malignant mesothelioma in south east England: clinicopathological experience of 272 cases. Thorax 1997;52(6):507-12.
  5. Scherpereel A, Astoul P, Baas P et al. Guidelines of the European Respiratory Society and the European Society of Thoracic Surgeons for the management of malignant pleural mesothelioma. Eur Respir J 2010; 35(3): 479-95.
  6. Frost G. The latency period of mesothelioma among a cohort of British asbestos workers (1978-2005). Br J Cancer 2013;109(7):1965-73.
  7. Harding AH, Darnton AJ. Asbestosis and mesothelioma among British asbestos workers (1971-2005). Am J Ind Med 2010;53(11):1070-80.
  8. Kang D, Myung MS, Kim YK, et al. Systematic Review of the Effects of Asbestos Exposure on the Risk of Cancer between Children and Adults. Ann Occup Environ Med. 2013 Jul 8;25(1):10.
  9. Goswami E, Craven V, Dahlstrom DL, et al. Domestic asbestos exposure: a review of epidemiologic and exposure data. Int J Environ Res Public Health 2013;10(11):5629-70.
  10. Bourdes V, Boffetta P, Pisani P. Environmental exposure to asbestos and risk of pleural mesothelioma: review and meta-analysis. Eur J Epidemiol 2000;16(5):411-7.
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International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies the role of this risk factor in cancer development.[1] While the IARC classification does not attribute this to a specific exposure, painters may have encountered asbestos in paints themselves (until the 1990s some paints contained asbestos as a filler), or in work sites (building maintenance may disturb asbestos already in place).[2]

UK portrait version shown here. Country versions, cancers caused by other risk factors, and landscape formats are available for free from our cancer risk publications.

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International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies the role of this risk factor in cancer development.[1] Evidence comes almost exclusively from one region in Turkey, where erionite is used as a building material, and mesothelioma rates are extremely high.[2] Because erionite occurs elsewhere in the world (notably parts of the US) without similarly high mesothelioma rates, it has been argued that the situation in Turkey indicates genetic susceptibility to erionite-associated mesothelioma in this population,[3] however evidence for this is weak.[1]

Last reviewed:

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