Mesothelioma: Epidemiology and Prognosis

Status: In progress


The primary purpose of this project is to update our understanding of current and future mesothelioma incidence in Canada. Current survival statistics for Ontario and British Columbia will also be determined.


Mesothelioma is a highly fatal respiratory cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. There is no cure and treatment options are limited. 5-year survival for this disease is extremely poor. While asbestos use has decreased since the 1970s, exposure is still occurring. The recent national asbestos ban is a positive step to reduce the burden of mesothelioma, but exposure to asbestos in existing buildings and older products is an ongoing concern. Previous investigations of mesothelioma in Canada found that disease incidence increased from 1983-2004. However, there has not been a recent update of mesothelioma incidence in Canada and there are no current survival statistics.


Mesothelioma incidence in Canada will be analyzed using data from the Canadian Cancer Registry. National trends in the annual number of cases and incidence rates will be examined from 1992 – 2015. Additionally, we will examine both demographics and tumor characteristics of mesothelioma cases at a national level. The future incidence of mesothelioma in Canada will be projected to 2067. The number of future mesothelioma cases will be estimated using the projected mesothelioma incidence rate and projected population estimates.

Survival will be investigated using data from the Ontario and British Columbia Cancer Registries. Determinants of survival including age, sex, geographic region, and histological and morphological tumor characteristics will be assessed using additive hazards and Cox proportional hazards models.


This research will update the Canadian understanding of mesothelioma incidence and survival using both provincial and national cancer data. We expect that reductions in exposure since the 1970s will result in a plateauing and eventual decrease in mesothelioma incidence. However, due to the long latency of the disease, previous studies found that incidence was still increasing. Projecting the peak incidence of mesothelioma in Canada will provide an understanding of the future burden of this disease and help the health system prepare and respond to future cases. As well, updated survival statistics will help evaluate our progress in treating and managing mesothelioma.

Progress (updated February 2019):

Data sharing agreements are now in place and analyses are beginning.


This project is funded by a WorkSafe BC grant.

Research Team:

Dr. Paul Demers (Occupational Cancer Research Centre)
Dr. Christopher McLeod (University of British Columbia)
Dr. Christopher Lee (BC Cancer Agency – Fraser Valley Centre)
Jeavana Sritharan (Occupational Cancer Research Centre)
Hunter Warden (Occupational Cancer Research Centre)