A Canadian study found that tracking trends in mesothelioma at the local level can help officials predict future mesothelioma cases.
Most mesothelioma tracking efforts focus on the national scale and monitor cases across a country or region.
This study, published in Cancer Causes and Control, looked at mesothelioma cases based on industrial sources of asbestos in Ontario and British Columbia.
Growing Number of Cases
Asbestos is a toxic material that is used in many commercial and industrial products. It’s durability and heat resistance made it very popular in products like construction materials, textiles, and vehicles.
Mesothelioma is a deadly cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. It was first identified as a cancer-causing material in 1977 by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Because of its toxic quality, asbestos is banned in many countries included the United States and Canada.
Canada has seen a growing trend in mesothelioma cases over the last few decades. This could be because Canada was a major exporter of asbestos during the 20th century. It was also used in building products within Canada.
The increasing number of mesothelioma cases in Canada has led the researchers of this study to explore the connection between asbestos mining and mesothelioma rates.
Tracking Regional Rates
The researchers used geographic information systems, or GIS, technology to map mesothelioma rates to asbestos mines and factories. They looked at data in Ontario and British Columbia from the 1960s to the present day.
The study was able to track the regional mesothelioma rates in both provinces over the last fifty years. The rate of mesothelioma has increased over that time, especially between 2009 and 2016.
The study also showed that certain occupations like construction workers were more likely to develop mesothelioma in these areas than other workers.
The researchers are hopeful that this study will encourage more local-level disease tracking for mesothelioma. They state that there is an “ongoing need to conduct surveillance of asbestos exposure and mesothelioma incidence rates in many places in Canada and beyond, where rates of mesothelioma are likely still increasing”.
Slavik CE, Demers PA, Tamburic L, Warden H, McLeod C. Do patterns of past asbestos use and production reflect current geographic variations of cancer risk?: mesothelioma in Ontario and British Columbia, Canada [published online ahead of print, 2023 Feb 2]. Cancer Causes Control. 2023;10.1007/s10552-023-01672-4. doi:10.1007/s10552-023-01672-4. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10552-023-01672-4#Sec13