Mesothelioma patients and family members should know the statistics regarding their disease as well as its causes and the treatment offered.

Mesothelioma Facts and Statistics

  • Mesothelioma Pleurectomy Treatment Surgery Icon
    Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that is caused by exposure to asbestos. It affects the mesothelium of the lung (pleural), heart (pericardial) or abdomen (peritoneal). Although there is no cure, the survival rates for mesothelioma patients have improved as research advances. The best way to improve your survival rate is by seeing a mesothelioma specialist. You can find a mesothelioma specialist for your specific diagnosis by using our free Doctor Match program.
  • Approximately 3,300 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma every year in the United States.
  • Symptoms of mesothelioma typically do not appear until decades after being exposed to asbestos.
  • Being diagnosed with mesothelioma under the age of 45 is very rare, and approximately 67% of pleural mesothelioma patients are age 65 and older.
  • Between 80% and 85% of mesothelioma cases are pleural mesothelioma. Almost all of the remaining 15-20% of cases involve peritoneal mesothelioma.
  • Pericardial mesothelioma comprises around 1% of all cases, making it the rarest of this cancer’s three main forms.
  • Men are far more likely than women to be diagnosed, mostly due to occupational exposure to asbestos. Around 80% of pleural mesothelioma patients are male.
  • However, peritoneal mesothelioma patients are close to a 50-50 split.
  • The general prognosis for pleural mesothelioma is between 11 and 20 months. Factors affecting your prognosis include: the stage of the disease, your age and health and whether you undergo aggressive treatment.
  • Peritoneal mesothelioma patients usually have a better prognosis, with many people surviving for multiple years after their diagnosis.
  • From 1999 to 2015, there were 45,221 deaths in the United States due to malignant mesothelioma. This averages to approximately 2,660 per year.

Asbestos Facts and Statistics

  • Amphibole Asbestos Fibers
    Asbestos is the only known cause of mesothelioma. Asbestos is a fibrous mineral used in various products because of its resistance to heat, fire and chemicals. The most common way people are exposed to asbestos is through occupational exposure.

About 125
million people

have been exposed to asbestos in
their workplace.

  • Approximately 125 million people worldwide are exposed to asbestos in the workplace.
  • Asbestos was in many products used by the U.S. military. Some ways a veteran may have been exposed to it is by working in mining, shipyard work, construction or demolition. If you were exposed to asbestos in the military, our free Veteran’s Support Guide provides detailed information on finding financial support and treatment specifically for veterans.
  • Mining for asbestos in the United States officially ended in 2002.
  • Currently, more than 60 countries (67 as of 2019) have either partially or fully banned asbestos, but the United States hasn’t.
  • In 2018, the U.S. imported and used about 750 tons of asbestos.
  • Asbestos kills 12,000-15,000 people per year in the United States.
  • There are six types of asbestos: chrysotile, crocidolite, amosite, anthophyllite, tremolite and actinolite.
  • The three most common forms of asbestos are chrysotile (white asbestos), crocidolite (blue asbestos), and amosite (brown/grey asbestos). Crocidolite is considered the most harmful type of asbestos because its fibers are long and thin, but all types of asbestos can enter the human body and puncture the cellular linings, causing mesothelioma to form.
  • Asbestos can be found in insulation, roofing shingles, drywall, flooring, gaskets, electrical wiring and panels, boiler rooms, military ships and vessels, and many automobile components (such as brake pads).
  • Asbestos was also used in making toasters, hair dryers, baking ovens and more household appliances.

Mesothelioma Treatment Facts and Statistics

  • Mesothelioma Chemotherapy Treatment Icon
    There is no known cure for mesothelioma, however, there are many treatment options that are available to patients. A patient may choose to have surgery, chemotherapy or radiation. They may also experience multimodal treatment or participate in clinical trials. Sometimes a patient cannot participate in some treatment options because of how advanced their diagnosis is. In this case, treatment may be used to help provide them with comfort.



of mesothelioma patients DO NOT receive any type of treatment.

  • Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy (HIPEC or “Hot Chemo”) is sometimes used in treating patients with peritoneal mesothelioma. This procedure was developed by Dr. Paul Sugarbaker.
  • During this treatment, HIPEC is applied directly to the abdominal region during cytoreductive surgery and can kill any remaining cancer cells. Around 60% of patients who undergo this procedure live for at least three years, and close to half of patients live for five or more years.
  • Extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) is surgery for pleural mesothelioma patients. This treatment was developed by Dr. David Sugarbaker and it’s one of the most successful surgical options. During EPP, the surgeon removes the entire lung, entire pleura, and either part or all of the pericardium and diaphragm.
  • Pleurectomy with decortication (P/D) is another surgical option for pleural mesothelioma patients. This operation spares the lung and focuses simply on removing the pleura, plus part or all of the pericardium and diaphragm.
  • P/D spares the lung, making it more appealing to many early-stage pleural mesothelioma patients. In one study, close to half of participants who underwent P/D survived for at least three years.
  • Palliative (pain-relief) mesothelioma treatments options are available to patients. These include a thoracentesis, pleurodesis or a shunt placement (the latter of which relieves pressure).
  • More than half of mesothelioma patients will participate in clinical trials, and many are ongoing.