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  • Writer's pictureKirk Hartley

Mesotheliomas in Australia: It’s About the Science, Sort of: “Asbestos Web Sites”

Plaintiff firms involved in asbestos litigation like to have the internet pulsing with references to asbestos and litigation. To that end, they’ve figured out the utility of writing blog posts and press releases about some of the hundreds of medical articles that flow out every year about asbestos-related diseases. For example, a new year end 2015 paper addresses mesothelioma in Australia, and a December 30, 2015 blog post at Surviving Mesothelioma provides a somewhat useful summary of information from the article. An excerpt is set out below:

“Mesothelioma Incidence Trends

The researchers studied patterns in the incidence, mortality, and survival of people diagnosed with either pleural mesothelioma or peritoneal mesothelioma in New South Wales between 1972 and 2009.

They found that the number of cases of pleural mesothelioma rose steadily until about 1994, but then began to level off. The number of new pleural mesothelioma patients has remained steady for about a decade.

Since 1999, the average number of peritoneal mesothelioma cases has remained relatively steady at about 11 each year.”

The article abstract provides more detail:


Introduction: Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) and malignant peritoneal mesothelioma (MPeM) are often grouped together in descriptive epidemiological analyses, resulting in limited understanding of epidemiological patterns for these tumour types.

Methods: We studied patterns in the incidence, mortality and survival of people diagnosed with MPM (n=4,076) and MPeM (n=293) in New South Wales (NSW), Australia, 1972–2009. We also calculated 5-year relative survival for people diagnosed 1972–2006 followed up to 2007. We assessed patterns for each tumour type and histological subtype and, where possible, by combination of these categories.

Results: Annual MPM cases steadily increased over time (n=208 in 2009). There was an increasing trend in the MPM age-standardised incidence rate from 1972 up to 1994. This rate increase has levelled off in the past 10 years. Since 1999, 11 cases of MPeM were diagnosed each year, on average. Five-year relative survival remained stable for MPM and MPeM. However, 5-year relative survival in 2002–2006 was substantially higher for people with MPM epithelioid histological subtype (11.7% [95%CI 6.8–18.2%]) compared to all other non-epithelioid histological subtypes (6.9% [95%CI 5.0–9.1%]), a 70% difference. Survival was also greater for women with MPM (13.4% [95%CI 8.5–19.4%]) compared to men (7.0% [95%CI 5.1–9.2%]).

Interpretation: MPM incidence rates have stabilised since the mid-1990s, suggesting that maximum incidence levels have been reached. When more up-to-date data are available, survival estimates should be reanalysed to include people likely to benefit from the wide introduction of combination chemotherapy in 2007, including pemetrexed.

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