Objectives: To describe trends in the incidence of mesothelioma for men and women in South East England and the geographical variation at the level of primary care trust. To describe treatment patterns by cancer network of residence, and relative survival by cancer network, disease stage and treatment modality.
Methods: 5753 cases were extracted from the Thames Cancer Registry database. We calculated age standardised incidence rates for each year, age specific incidence rates in 10 year age groups, and we used linear regression to compute the average annual percentage change in age standardised incidence. We used Poisson regression to analyse generational trends in incidence.
Results: Men had five times higher incidence of mesothelioma than women. In men, there was an overall 4% increase per year between 1985 and 2002. Over the same period, the overall increase in incidence for women was 5% per year. The incidence was highest in men aged over 70 years, and men aged over 80 years had the highest increase of 8% per year. The incidence rate ratio increased for men born between 1892 and 1942 and started to slow for those born from 1947 onwards. Areas along the Thames and its estuary had the highest incidence. There was some variation by cancer network in the proportion of patients receiving cancer surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. There were no discernable differences in relative survival by cancer network of residence or disease stage but those receiving combined treatment had higher 5 year survival.
Conclusions: Mesothelioma incidence has increased in South East England, particularly for men aged over 70 years. The highest incidence occurs along the Thames and its estuary, reflecting areas of asbestos use in shipbuilding and industry in the past. More research is needed to understand the interrelationships of prognostic factors, treatment choices and survival, and to determine the best care and support for these patients and their families.
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Competing interests: None.