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Mesothelioma statistics for 2020 likely skewed by Covid

Updated statistics from the Health and Safety Executive in 2022 show that mesothelioma deaths increased slightly in 2020 from the previous year. The general predicted trend is that annual male deaths should have begun to fall after 2020.

Separate predictions suggest that annual deaths among women will not start to decline as quickly, although female projections are less certain because of the smaller number of deaths.

It is likely, however, that the current figures were impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, since a small number of people with mesothelioma may not have died in 2020 had they not also contracted covid.

63 of the 2,085 male deaths and 15 of the 459 female deaths in 2020 mentioned COVID-19 and mesothelioma on the death certificate, but delays in processing death certificates could also mean that there were additional deaths yet to be identified.

There were 2,085 male deaths in 2020, a rise of 6 per cent compared with 2019, and 459 female deaths, a rise of 7 per cent from 2019. Men who worked in the building industry during the years when asbestos use was rife continue to be most at risk of mesothelioma.

Eighty-five per cent of all male mesothelioma can be attributed to asbestos exposures in an occupational setting. Most of the remainder of male deaths and a majority of female deaths were likely caused by indirect asbestos exposure that is, not directly linked to handling asbestos materials.

The period between initial exposure to asbestos and the manifestation of the disease of at least 30 years means that most mesothelioma deaths occurring today are a result of past exposure during 1950-1980.

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