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The release of the second annual Australian Mesothelioma Registry may serve as a timely reminder about the importance of asbestos awareness and safety on construction sites.

The report offers extensive details on the number of people in Australia who were diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2012, and uses data available as of June 30 2013.

According to Safe Work Australia – which prepares the report alongside Comcare – mesothelioma is a “usually fatal cancer” that typically occurs in people who have been exposed to asbestos.

Safe Work Australia reports that 619 people were officially diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2012. Of that number, the vast majority were aged over 65. This is because mesothelioma usually takes between 20 and 40 years to develop after the initial contact.

Just under 47 per cent of people diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2012 had died by April 2013. More than 95 per cent of those deaths were a direct result of mesothelioma.

Of the 256 mesothelioma patients who responded to the survey, 229 agreed to participate in a further telephone interview. These interviews provided important insight into the prevalence of asbestos exposure in those diagnosed with mesothelioma.

Nearly two thirds (63 per cent) of those who took part in a telephone interview confirmed possible or probable occupational exposure to asbestos in their lives.

However, 37 per cent of respondents gave evidence to indicate that while they had not been exposed to asbestos in an occupational sense, they had been in contact with the substance outside of work.

This data highlights just how dangerous asbestos can be, and how important it is to ensure that anyone coming into contact with asbestos is aware of the potential dangers involved.

The Mesothelioma Center estimates that more than 10,000 Australians have died because of mesothelioma since records began in the early 1980s. It is predicted that another 25,000 Australians will succumb to mesothelioma over the next forty years.

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