“The annual number of malignant mesothelioma deaths is increasing . . . most likely representing exposure many years ago,” the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated in their Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
From 1999-2015, annual malignant mesothelioma deaths increased 4.8 percent. The “latency period” for mesothelioma—the time between asbestos exposure and the development of mesothelioma symptoms—ranges from 20 to 40 years, and can even be as long as 71 years. Due to late diagnosis, the median survival for mesothelioma is approximately one year after diagnosis.
Although the annual number of mesothelioma deaths is increasing, deaths for persons aged 35-64 years are decreasing. However, the continuing occurrence of mesothelioma deaths among persons under 55 suggests that there remain ongoing occupational and environmental exposures to asbestos fibers.
From 1995-2015, there were 45,221 deaths with malignant mesothelioma mentioned on the death certificate as a contributing cause. Of those, 37.4 percent died between the ages of 75 and 84, with 79.8 percent of those deaths occurring among males.
Other important facts about mesothelioma from the CDC include:
- Shipbuilding and construction industries were major contributors to malignant mesothelioma mortality
- Direct and indirect exposure to fibers through most of the twentieth century is related to mesothelioma deaths in the twenty-first century
- Exposure to asbestos occurred during the installation of pipes, cement sheets, architectural panels, roofing insulation, and spraying of asbestos insulation in multistory structures
By occupation, the highest exposure to asbestos occurred in insulation workers, chemical technicians, pipelayers, plumbers, and steam fitters. Additional persons who might have been exposed to asbestos and be at risk for malignant mesothelioma include family members of asbestos-exposed workers.