What are the future trends for mesothelioma incidence and survival in Canada?

Date posted: 
Wednesday, June 3, 2020


Asbestos roof overlaid with a map

Data access has been approved for a research study which aims to better understand the occurrence of mesothelioma in Canada, with a focus on BC and Ontario.

Mesothelioma is a rare and highly fatal cancer that is the result of exposure to asbestos twenty to fifty years prior to diagnosis. In Canada, asbestos was mined and milled, used in building and ship construction, and incorporated in manufactured products like cement pipe and automobile brake pads and linings. Although asbestos mining recently ceased in Canada, asbestos remains present in older buildings. In December 2018, Canada officially banned the import, sale and use of asbestos and the manufacture, import, sale and use of products containing asbestos.

The overall study is led by Paul Demers, Director of the Occupational Cancer Research Center and Professor at the Dalla Lana School for Population and Public Health at the University of Toronto. Chris McLeod, Co-director of the Partnership for Work, Health and Safety and Associate Professor at the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia, is leading the BC component of the study.

“Mesothelioma incidence and survival is poorly understood in Canada,” according to Professor McLeod.  “Using the most current data, the information generated from this research will update and provide a much more detailed picture of mesothelioma patterns and projected trends in Canada, BC and Ontario from 1992 to the present.”

The research teams expect the research findings to have an impact on four levels; prevention, compensation, health services, and research. Identifying potential factors in Canada that may impact survival can play an important role in prolonging the lives of workers afflicted by this rare and highly fatal cancer.

The study is funded by WorkSafeBC, aligning with its research priority of preventing occupational disease. Such research is crucial to understanding where, and in whom, future mesothelioma cases will occur, and the impact of workers’ compensation systems and health care systems.

The objectives of the BC component of this research are to: increase our understanding of how rates of mesothelioma have changed over time, by demographic and by tumour characteristics; evaluate survival and factors such as geographical location, sex, and age, that may impact mesothelioma survival in BC; and to predict when the epidemic of mesothelioma will peak in BC, accounting for historical and current exposures.

PopData will link data sets from the BC Ministry of Health and BC Cancer for the study.


Page last revised: June 3, 2020