Australia has one of the highest known rates of malignant mesothelioma in the world and has undertaken several forms of mesothelioma surveillance since 1980. This presentation provides an overview of recent results from the AMR, managed by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
Most notifications to the AMR come directly from jurisdictional cancer registries. People notified to the AMR are invited to participate in an exposure assessment, conducted by the Monash University Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health. While data are available up to mid-2020, the number of cases and rates are reported here to the end of 2017 to allow for delayed notification.
Notifications were received for 769 people newly diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma in 2017. In 2017, 733 people diagnosed with mesothelioma between 2011 and 2017 died; of those with known cause of death, 93% had mesothelioma as the underlying cause of death. Most cases were in men (83%); the rate in men was about four times that of women overall. The number and rate of cases increased with increasing age. The number started to plateau from about 2014 and the peak rate (age standardised) appears to have occurred around 2003 (3.2/100,000, compared to 2.6/100,000 in 2017).
Detailed exposure information was available for 891 people diagnosed between 1 July 2010 and 1 April 2019. Of these, 93% were considered to have had possible or probable asbestos exposure above background levels – 12% occupational only; 36% non-occupational only; 52% both.
Malignant mesothelioma remains an important cause of morbidity and mortality in Australians, reflecting the high per capita use of asbestos in Australia in past decades. The vast majority of affected people appear to have had identifiable asbestos exposure, typically in occupational circumstances for men and non-occupational circumstances for women.