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Original Article
Estimation of the global burden of mesothelioma deaths from incomplete national mortality data
  1. Chimed-Ochir Odgerel1,
  2. Ken Takahashi1,2,
  3. Tom Sorahan3,
  4. Tim Driscoll4,
  5. Christina Fitzmaurice5,
  6. Makoto Yoko-o1,
  7. Kittisak Sawanyawisuth6,
  8. Sugio Furuya7,
  9. Fumihiro Tanaka8,
  10. Seichi Horie9,
  11. Nico van Zandwijk2,
  12. Jukka Takala10
  1. 1Department of Environmental Epidemiology, Institute of Industrial Ecological Sciences, University of Occupational and Environmental Health, Kitakyushu, Japan
  2. 2Asbestos Diseases Research Institute, Concord Clinical School, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
  3. 3Institute of Applied Health Research, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK
  4. 4School of Public Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
  5. 5Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology, Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA
  6. 6Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Sleep Apnea Research Group, Khon Kaen University, Khon Kaen, Thailand
  7. 7Japan Occupational Safety and Health Resource Center, Tokyo, Japan
  8. 8Department of Surgery, University of Occupational and Environmental Health, Kitakyushu, Japan
  9. 9Department of Health Policy and Management, Institute of Industrial Ecological Sciences, University of Occupational and Environmental Health, Kitakyushu, Japan
  10. 10Workplace Safety and Health Institute, Ministry of Manpower, Singapore, Singapore
  1. Correspondence to Professor Ken Takahashi, Asbestos Diseases Research Institute, Concord Clinical School, University of Sydney, PO Box 3628, Rhodes NSW 2138, Sydney, Australia; ken.takahashi{at}


Background Mesothelioma is increasingly recognised as a global health issue and the assessment of its global burden is warranted.

Objectives To descriptively analyse national mortality data and to use reported and estimated data to calculate the global burden of mesothelioma deaths.

Methods For the study period of 1994 to 2014, we grouped 230 countries into 59 countries with quality mesothelioma mortality data suitable to be used for reference rates, 45 countries with poor quality data and 126 countries with no data, based on the availability of data in the WHO Mortality Database. To estimate global deaths, we extrapolated the gender-specific and age-specific mortality rates of the countries with quality data to all other countries.

Results The global numbers and rates of mesothelioma deaths have increased over time. The 59 countries with quality data recorded 15 011 mesothelioma deaths per year over the 3 most recent years with available data (equivalent to 9.9 deaths per million per year). From these reference data, we extrapolated the global mesothelioma deaths to be 38 400 per year, based on extrapolations for asbestos use.

Conclusions Although the validity of our extrapolation method depends on the adequate identification of quality mesothelioma data and appropriate adjustment for other variables, our estimates can be updated, refined and verified because they are based on commonly accessible data and are derived using a straightforward algorithm. Our estimates are within the range of previously reported values but higher than the most recently reported values.

  • asbestos
  • mesothelioma
  • statistics

This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:

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  • Contributors OC analysed and interpreted the data, and prepared the initial draft of the article with advice from KT, TS, TD and JT. Revision was done by OC with supervision of TK. TS contributed for linguistic issues for the revision. JT supported for replying reviewer's comments. KT revised and rewrote the manuscript. MY contributed to the design of tables and figures. Manuscript was reviewed by TS, TD, CF, KS, SF, FT, SH, NvZ and JT.

  • Funding This work was supported by a JSPS (Japan Society for the Promotion of Sciences) Grant-in-Aid for Research Activity Start-up (Grant Number 26893321).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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