rss
Occup Environ Med 61:438-441 doi:10.1136/oem.2003.010165
  • Original article

Changing trends in US mesothelioma incidence

  1. H Weill1,
  2. J M Hughes2,
  3. A M Churg3
  1. 1Department of Medicine, Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, LA, USA
  2. 2Department of Biostatistics, Tulane University School of Tropical Medicine and Public Health, New Orleans, LA, USA
  3. 3Department of Pathology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC Canada
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr H Weill
 755 Hearthstone Drive, Basalt, CO 81621, USA; weillrof.net
  • Accepted 2 November 2003

Abstract

Aims: To report the temporal pattern and change in trend of mesothelioma incidence in the United States since 1973.

Methods: The Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) programme of the National Cancer Institute has since 1973 provided annual age adjusted incidence for mesothelioma in representative cancer registries dispersed throughout the USA. SEER data are analysed to describe the trend of male mesothelioma incidence in the USA.

Results: The US male mesothelioma incidence data indicate that after two decades of increasing incidence, a likely decline has been observed since the early 1990s, when a highly significant change in the upward course occurred.

Conclusions: Increasing male mesothelioma incidence for many years was undoubtedly the result of exposure to asbestos. The high mesothelioma risk was prominently influenced by exposure to amphibole asbestos (crocidolite and amosite), which reached its peak usage in the 1960s and thereafter declined. A differing pattern in some other countries (continuing rise in incidence) may be related to their greater and later amphibole use, particularly crocidolite. The known latency period for the development of this tumour provides biological plausibility for the recent decline in mesothelioma incidence in the USA. This favourable finding is contrary to a widespread fear that asbestos related health effects will show an inevitable increase in coming years, or even decades.

Footnotes

  • No funding was received for the work involved in the analyses and writing of this paper