The global incidence of mesothelioma has decreased in recent years, according to research published in the Journal of Thoracic Oncology.

The study also showed differences in mesothelioma incidence by sex, asbestos exposure, and countries’ gross domestic product and human development index (HDI). 

For this study, researchers first used data from the Global Cancer Observatory (GLOBOCAN) database to determine the incidence of mesothelioma in 185 countries in the year 2020. 

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A total of 30,870 mesothelioma cases were reported in 2020, for an overall age-standardized incidence of 0.30 cases per 100,000 persons. 

The highest rates of mesothelioma were seen in Northern Europe (1.4 cases per 100,000 persons) and Australia/New Zealand (1.3 cases). The lowest rates were seen in the Caribbean (0.05 cases), Eastern Africa (0.06 cases), Western Africa (0.06 cases), and Middle Africa (0.07 cases).

The researchers also used the Global Burden of Disease database to assess mesothelioma risk factors. They found a higher incidence of mesothelioma in countries with a higher HDI (P <.001), a higher gross domestic product per capita (P <.001), and higher asbestos exposure (P <.001). 

There was a difference in mesothelioma incidence by sex as well. The incidence was 0.46 cases per 100,000 persons among men and 0.17 cases per 100,000 persons among women.

Lastly, the researchers used the Cancer Incidence in Five Continents Plus database to determine the average annual percentage change (AAPC) in mesothelioma incidence from 2003 to 2012 in 108 countries. 

The data showed a significant decrease in the incidence of mesothelioma in some countries with a higher HDI, including Australia (AAPC, -1.54; P =.001), the United States (AAPC, -1.75; P =.007), Norway (AAPC, -1.94; P =.023), and Germany (AAPC, -4.11; P =.001). However, there was an increasing trend in Korea (AAPC, 3.24; P =.045). 

Among countries with a lower HDI, there was a significant increase in mesothelioma incidence for Bulgaria (AAPC, 5.56; P =.001) and a significant decrease in incidence for Brazil (AAPC, -13.08; P =.001). 

“Overall, there has been a substantial decrease in the trends of mesothelioma, especially among highly developed countries, probably attributable to the total ban on the use of asbestos in some countries,” the researchers wrote. 


Huang J, Chan SC, Pang WS, et al. Global incidence, risk factors, and temporal trends of mesothelioma: A population-based study. J Thorac Oncol. Published online February 9, 2023. doi:10.1016/j.jtho.2023.01.095