The first report  compiled with data from the recently-established Australian Mesothelioma Registry has been released, and the results are not encouraging especially for labourers

According to Safe Work Australia’s report and the Australian Mesothelioma Registry, 612 new cases of mesothelioma in 2011 were recorded. The new country-wide registry launched in 2011 with the aim of recording and tracking all newly reported mesothelioma cases. The collection of data is to compile research and note patterns and trends.

612 new cases equals to about 2.7 mesothelioma cases per 100,000 people. Safe Work Australia noted however that  that the number is likely to be a significantly higher due to “possible delays in confirming or coding some diagnoses.”

Of the 612 mesothelioma cases diagnosed, over half of the deaths were reported by the end of August 2012. Men make up for about 84.5 per cent of reported cases and most patients are 65-years old or older. The report indicated that workers from the construction and building trades were the most likely to have been exposed to asbestos in their careers.

The registry has patients complete and asbestos questionnaire to gain some insight into their history of exposure.  A patients completed the survey and 87 also completed a telephone interview.

Australia has one of the world’s highest per capita rates of mesothelioma, a rare cancer that attacks the membranes around organs and often resists conventional therapies. According to Safe Work Australia, Australia both produced and was one of the biggest consumers of asbestos until the mid-1980’s. Even though the Australian government issued a total ban on the use and importation of all forms of asbestos in 2003, it is still present in thousands of homes and buildings.

At the beginning of this year the Australian government started a campaign meant to at encourage do-it-yourself homeowners to have asbestos assessments or have it removed before building or renovating a home.

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Source:First Australian Mesothelioma Report Confirms 612 Cases”, September 24, 2012, Occupational Health & Safety website.