Back in 1984, Australia took a big step by partly banning asbestos. But worries remained about people being around asbestos in the environment and outside of work.
A new study looked at mesothelioma changes in Western Australia over 60 years since they started keeping track.
Mesothelioma Over 60 Years
Experts checked every case of mesothelioma reported to the Western Australia Cancer Registry. They looked at who got it, how they were exposed to asbestos, and how long it took for the cancer to show up after being around asbestos.
They found over 2,700 mesothelioma cases, mostly in men (84.7%). People usually get diagnosed around 70 years old. And it took about 47 years from being near asbestos to get diagnosed. Most had pleural mesothelioma, which affects the lining of the lungs.
Mesothelioma Trends in Western Australia
Trends showed that people lived a bit longer after getting diagnosed (almost a year more). And it took a bit longer for the cancer to show up (almost 50 years) over the years they studied. Researchers also noticed that more women were exposed to asbestos outside of work compared to men.
One important thing they found was that some cases came from home renovations, making up about 8%. The number of cases from home renovations went up around 2005/09 but has gone down since then. This might show that the ban on asbestos is starting to make a difference.
Mesothelioma is a cancer that’s often deadly and comes from being around asbestos. Australia had its problems with asbestos. This is especially true in Western Australia, where they mined it. Even though they banned asbestos, people worry about a ‘third wave’ of mesothelioma from short or low-level exposure to leftover asbestos in buildings.
This study adds to what we already know and shows that mesothelioma cases in Australia are going down. It mainly looked at Western Australia and tells us a lot about how things have changed over many years because of being around asbestos.
Knowing these changes and where people got exposed, especially outside of work, like during home renovations, is vital for handling mesothelioma better and stopping more cases in the future.
Brims, Fraser, Chellan Kumarasamy, Lalitha Menon, Nola Olsen, Nick de Klerk, and Peter Franklin. “The Western Australian Mesothelioma Registry: Analysis of 60 Years of Cases.” Respirology n/a, no. n/a. Accessed January 4, 2024. https://doi.org/10.1111/resp.14648.