The number of Australians dying from mesothelioma, a cancer usually caused by asbestos exposure, remains high despite asbestos being banned in building matierials for over 15 years.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has released data that shows that there were 662 new diagnoses of mesothelioma last year, and close to 700 deaths from the disease.
Those affected by the disease aren’t just older Australians who were exposed to it over their lifetime, as the numbers show that the youngest person diagnosed was 22, while the oldest was 101.
A spokesman for the Institute, Justin Harvey, said there was a concerning number of Australians still being diagnosed with the disease despite the ban.
“Due to its aggressive nature, most cases of mesothelioma have a poor prognosis,” Mr Harvey said.
The rate of fatalities last year from mesothelioma is currently 699, but as the Australian Mesothelioma Registry is notified of more fatalities, that number could rise further.
New South Wales recorded the highest number of people (923) diagnosed with mesothelioma between 2015 and 2018, followed by Victoria (642) and Queensland (586).
The registry is funded by Safe Work Australia, and explained that “the average profile of an Australian with mesothelioma is male, who was exposed to asbestos through both work and non-work settings before being diagnosed at 75 years.
“On average, people will only live for about 11 months after diagnosis.”
An initial survey of 1000 people who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma found that 93 per cent of them had likely exposure to asbestos.