Asbestos related lung cancer
The overall scale of asbestos-related lung cancer deaths has to be estimated rather than counted. This is because asbestos is one of a number of factors, including smoking, that can cause lung cancer. Individual cases usually have no specific clinical signs suggesting a particular cause, and factors such as asbestos exposure and smoking often act together to increase the risk.
- Research suggests there are probably about as many asbestos-related lung cancer deaths each year as there are mesothelioma deaths.
- This implies there are currently in excess of 2,000 lung cancer deaths each year in Great Britain that can be attributed to past asbestos-exposure.
- This estimate is uncertain, and since asbestos and smoking act together to increase the risk, it is affected by past smoking habits as well as asbestos exposure.
- The ratio of lung cancers to mesotheliomas is expected to fall over time suggesting less than one asbestos-related lung cancer per mesothelioma in the future.
- There were 285 cases assessed for disablement benefit in 2014. (IIDB).
- There were an estimated 96 cases of occupational lung cancer reported by chest physicians in 2014. (THOR).
- The much lower number of cases identified via IIDB and THOR highlight the difficulty in attributing individual cases to asbestos exposure.
- IIDB05 - Prescribed industrial diseases of the lungs and new cases of assessed disablement by disease
- THORR01 - Numbers by sex and diagnostic category, 1998 to latest year
Scientific publications on asbestos-related lung cancer by HSE:
- Darnton AJ, McElvenny D M, Hodgson JT(2005). Estimating the number of asbestos related lung cancer deaths in Great Britain from 1980-2000. Annals of Occupational Hygiene 50(1): 29-38.