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Study: Mesothelioma Significantly Underreported in Developing Countries

A new study published by the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives estimates the global magnitude of reported and unreported mesothelioma.

According to the study, it conservatively estimates that, globally, one mesothelioma case has been overlooked for every four to five reported cases. In particular, many developing countries, including some with a high cumulative use of asbestos, do not report mesothelioma. Russia, Kazakhstan, China, and India all rank in the top 15 countries for cumulative use of asbestos. Under diagnosing and/or underreporting may have occurred in these countries due to lack of awareness, knowledge and resources.

This study is the first to postulate a global estimate of “missed” mesothelioma cases based on the collective experience of countries with available data on asbestos use and the disease. Given that their estimation is based on asbestos use until 1970 and because many countries have increased asbestos use since then, those countries should anticipate a higher disease burden in the immediate decades ahead.

Since mesothelioma can be prevented by eliminating exposure to asbestos, the authors of the study propose that every country ban the mining, use, and export of asbestos on grounds of public health. They also propose that developed countries share experience and technology to enable developing countries to better diagnose, report, and manage mesothelioma cases.