Epidemiology of Mesothelioma

  • Dario Mirabelli
  • Alessandro Marinaccio
  • Pietro Comba
  • Corrado MagnaniEmail author


The chapter presents a summary of evidence regarding the aetiology of malignant mesothelioma (MM), a malignant neoplasm associated to asbestos exposure in the large majority of cases. MM is nowadays the most important cause of death associated to asbestos exposure in the world, and its frequency has been increasing steadily, with over 38,000 deaths estimated each year. Forecasts of future epidemic indicate a reduction expected in the next years in the countries that reduced or banned asbestos use. However, epidemic is expected to continue in the large part of the world where asbestos is still in use. MM registration systems are active only in few countries (Italy, Australia, France and South Korea), while most countries rely on mortality data. Scientific data indicate the association of MM with asbestos exposure, with risk increasing with dose and time since first exposure, both from occupational and nonoccupational origins. Environmental exposure to asbestos-like mineral fibres is the explanation for important MM outbreaks observed in different countries. Other aetiological factors for MM are limited to ionizing radiations that explain only a minimal proportion of cases. The summary of evidence indicates the need for the worldwide extension of the asbestos ban.


Malignant mesothelioma Asbestos Pleural cancer Peritoneal cancer Occupation Environmental exposure Cumulative dose Time trends Ionizing radiation SV40 Systematic review 


Conflict of Interest

DM and CM acted as expert witnesses for the public prosecutor in court trials on asbestos-related diseases.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dario Mirabelli
    • 1
  • Alessandro Marinaccio
    • 2
  • Pietro Comba
    • 3
  • Corrado Magnani
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Cancer Epidemiology, CPO PiemonteUniversity of TurinTurinItaly
  2. 2.Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Epidemiology and Hygiene, Unit of Occupational and Environmental EpidemiologyINAIL, Italian National Institute for Insurance Against Accidents at WorkRomeItaly
  3. 3.Unit of Environmental and Social Epidemiology, Department of Environment and Health, Istituto Superiore di SanitàRomeItaly
  4. 4.Department of Translational MedicineUniversity of Eastern Piedmont, and Cancer Epidemiology Unit, Maggiore Hospital and CPO PiedmontNovaraItaly

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