January 10, 2011

Mesothelioma Cases Underreported

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Worldwide, at least one out of five cases of mesothelioma goes unreported, according to a new study.

Malignant mesothelioma is almost exclusively caused by exposure to asbestos. Patients usually die shortly after diagnosis, and the disease is typically difficult to diagnose until it has advanced. Mesothelioma usually develops 20-50 years after exposure to asbestos.

Researchers compared the relationship between country-level asbestos use from 1920-1970 and mesothelioma deaths from 1994-2008. The United States, Russia, United Kingdom, Germany and Japan had the most asbestos use. Cumulative asbestos use in 89 countries (which accounted for more than 82 percent of the global population in 2000) totaled more than 65 million metric tons during the years 1920-1970.

"Our most important finding is the magnitude of unreported mesothelioma in countries that use asbestos at substantial levels but report no cases of the disease," study co-author Ken Takahashi of the University of Occupational and Environmental Health in Japan, was quoted as saying. Some of these countries include Russia, Kazakhstan, China, and India, which rank in the top 15 for cumulative asbestos use.

The authors suggest that each country should ban the mining, use and export of asbestos to prevent mesothelioma. They also propose that developed countries should share ways to help developing countries better diagnose, report and manage mesothelioma cases.

SOURCE: Environmental Health Perspectives, published online January, 2011