This rare form of cancer that is usually linked to asbestos exposure.

Mesothelioma is almost always caused by exposure to asbestos – a group of minerals used in construction. Mesothelioma mainly affects the lining of the lungs (pleural mesothelioma), although it can also affect the lining of the tummy (peritoneal mesothelioma), heart or testicles.

The use of asbestos has been banned in many countries around the world in the last 20 years. The risk of exposure is therefore lower than it was. However, materials containing asbestos are still found in many older buildings and the disease can take 10 – 50 years (or even longer) to develop following exposure.

“Although asbestos importation and use is now banned in most European countries, it remains embedded in huge numbers of ageing buildings across the continent. Given a reluctance to remove asbestos at scale, these buildings require constant maintenance to prevent decay, exposure and inhalation. The risk this poses is difficult to predict and is likely to depend on complex factors linked directly to public policy and funding. The data available here can play a key role in tracking mesothelioma numbers, allowing research teams, local clinicians and policy makers to respond.” Professor Kevin Blyth, Professor of Respiratory Medicine, School of Cancer Sciences, University of Glasgow and Honorary Consultant in Respiratory Medicine, Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Glasgow.

Mesothelioma in numbers

in 2019 in the WHO European region.

The charts below present data from GBD studies to provide a uniform evaluation of the state of lung health. To find out more about how this data is put together, visit the methodology page. All charts are freely available to download by clicking the three dots in the top right hand corner. Please reference Lung Facts when sharing.

  • Europe: the big picture
  • Incidence rate
  • Incidence numbers
  • Prevalence rate
  • Prevalence numbers
  • Mortality rate
  • Mortality numbers
  • Years of life lost (YLL) rate
  • Years of life lost (YLL) numbers
  • Disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) rate
  • Disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) numbers
  • Monetised DALYS – societal cost for whole population in international dollars
  • Monetised DALYS – societal cost per 100,000 people in international dollars