AAPMonday April 2, 03:57 PM
Mesothelioma to impact more: study
A deadly cancer sparked by exposure to asbestos will strike far more Australians and peak years later than first predicted, a new report shows.
The study into the impact of the fatal asbestos-related cancer, mesothelioma, offers a new and much grimmer picture for the future of the disease.
Researchers at the Australian National University say their results are based on increased estimates of asbestos exposure and have “important implications” for asbestos-related disease liability schemes.
A previous model developed by the auditing firm KPMG estimated that the number of mesothelioma cases would keep rising until 2010, when they would start to drop off.
It predicted 3,530 cases among NSW men between 2006 and 2060.
But the new analysis by Dr Mark Clements, from the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, predicts that 6,430 cases of the fatal disease would be recorded over that period, and it won’t peak until as late as 2017.
“This has far reaching consequences for actuarial predictions, where the number of cases out to 2060 may be in excess of 35 per cent higher than the number predicted by KPMG’s model,” Dr Clements said.
The increase was based on changes on exposure levels and would therefore have implications for other asbestos-related diseases like asbestosis, lung cancer and pleural disorders.
He said it was unclear why the two models give different results, but it might be that the earlier picture was influenced by the common belief that peak incidence would be in 2010.
The diseases have been the subject of a large-scale compensation deal involving the building company James Hardie.
The researcher said the new prediction will have implications for liability claims, but there are several steps between predicting mesothelioma incidence and calculating liability.
“I can’t speculate as to the revised level of liability,” Dr Clements said.
“However based on our modeling of future mesothelioma incidence, its worrying that the liability may have been underestimated.”
The results were presented at an accident compensation seminar in Melbourne on Monday.
International research released last month found that Australia has one of the highest rates of asbestos-related disease in the world, largely due to enthusiastic post-war uptake of the building materials, banned Australia-wide in 2003.