Mesothelioma is a highly fatal cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. There is no cure and treatment options are limited. Five-year survival for this disease is also extremely poor. While asbestos use has decreased in Canada since the 1970s, exposure is still occurring. The recent national asbestos ban is a positive step to reduce the burden of mesothelioma, but exposure to asbestos in existing buildings and older products is an ongoing concern.

The surveillance of mesothelioma is essential for understanding the past, current, and future burden of this deadly disease. Past investigations by the Occupational Cancer Research Centre and Statistics Canada have shown that mesothelioma incidence increased from 1981 to 2013 in Ontario and from 1983 to 2004 in Canada. There has not been a national update of these important statistics in over a decade.

This ongoing project seeks to update the understanding of mesothelioma incidence in Canada. We also aim to project future incidence of this disease until 2067, which will inform healthcare resource preparation and response. Additionally, geographic and clinical determinants of mesothelioma survival will be examined in an effort to understand if some Canadian provinces have made progress in lengthening mesothelioma survival.

Mesothelioma in Ontario

Figure 1. Number of Mesothelioma Cases in Ontario, 1992-2017

Data from the Ontario Cancer Registry, 1992-2017













Figure 2. Male Mesothelioma Incidence Rates by Public Health Unit, Ontario, 1986-2012

Incidence rates are age-standardized and expressed per 100,000 people. Data source: Ontario Cancer Registry, 2015 (Cancer Care Ontario).