Australia has one of the highest measured incidence rates of mesothelioma in the world (Bray et al. 2017). Each year in Australia, between 700 and 800 people are diagnosed with the rare and aggressive cancer. Males are more likely to be diagnosed with mesothelioma than females across all age groups, and the number of cases diagnosed each year for both males and females has steadily increased over the past 40 years. There is no cure for mesothelioma. The main cause is exposure to asbestos—a material that has been banned in Australia since 2003.

This report presents the latest available statistics from the Australian Mesothelioma Registry (AMR), supplemented by data from the National Mortality Database (NMD), the Australian Cancer Database (ACD) and the National Death Index (NDI).

Main findings

659 cases of mesothelioma diagnosed in 2019 had been reported to the AMR as at 1 April 2020—the median age at diagnosis was 75.

Between 1987–1991 and 2012–2016, the age-adjusted relative survival of people with mesothelioma has increased, most notably 1-year relative survival.

In 2019, 724 deaths of people with mesothelioma (from any cause of death including mesothelioma) were recorded on the AMR—a mortality rate of 2.9 deaths per 100,000 population.

More than 9 in 10 of the exposure assessment participants were assessed as having possible or probable exposure to asbestos.

The AMR collects information on new cases of mesothelioma diagnosed in Australia since 1 July 2010. The Registry’s main goals are to better understand the relationship between asbestos exposure and mesothelioma, to assist in the development of policies to best deal with asbestos still in the environment, and to provide reliable information to policy makers and researchers. For more information on the AMR, see Mesothelioma in Australia 2019–methodology paper.