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Mesothelioma deaths – first evidence of a reduction following years of static mortality

The burden of mesothelioma mortality has fallen overall by 7 %

Introduction:

Recently published mesothelioma statistics for Great Britain by the HSE (July 2021) reveal the burden of mesothelioma mortality has fallen overall by 7 % - compared to the static levels (circa 2,450 deaths) seen during the period 2012 to 2018.

The statistics cover the calendar year 2019 and they are said not to have been influenced by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The main findings:

  • Male mortality recorded a steeper fall of 9 %, whereas female mortality was broadly the same as previous years.
  • The HSE maintain this is in keeping with past predictions of a fall – roughly from the year 2020, with declining mortality through the present decade.
  • The report concludes that 85 % of male mesotheliomas are attributable to known occupational exposures with the remainder thought to be due to unwitting/background exposure.
  • The majority of deaths are linked to the construction industry with occupations such as plumbers, carpenters and electricians featuring heavily. Nearly half of mesotheliomas seen amongst men born in the 1940’s are amongst former building workers whose exposure to amosite (brown asbestos) in insulating board is regarded as the principle source of exposure.
  • Mesothelioma deaths amongst those aged 65 years and under continues to decline, in keeping with historical occupational exposures having significantly reduced by the early 1980s. The greatest mortality is seen amongst those in the age range 75 years and above.
  • All geographical regions show either declining or static mortality with similar figures for all save in the North East which has and continues to shoulder the highest burden.

Conclusions:

The pronounced reduction evidenced here, particularly amongst male mortality will be welcomed by all - not only from a humanitarian perspective but as evidence that mortality is finally declining – in keeping with HSE predictions.

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