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Asbestos & Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma Statistics in the U.S.

— November 15, 2022

Around 3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma in the U.S. each year.

Mesothelioma lawsuits are infrequent these days, due to reduction of asbestos use across America. When they do occur, however, they usually end in a million-dollar settlement or more. Mesothelioma cases are favorable to the victim, because it’s not difficult to prove that companies knew about their asbestos use and hid its negative effects. The American court system is naturally sympathetic to the victim who contracted a fatal disease, not the greedy corporation.

So, how frequent do mesothelioma cases occur? In 2020 there were 1,827 lawsuits filed. Attorneys at The Williams Law Firm, P.C. examined mesothelioma data provided by the CDC and other sources to answer questions like this. Their data analysis sought to address queries like, what is the average life expectancy of a mesothelioma patient? How does it differ for patients of different demographics? How common is mesothelioma compared to other cancers? Find out those answers and more below.

Quick Facts

  • Around 3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma in the U.S. each year, which accounts for only 0.3% of all cancer diagnoses. The most common type of cancer is breast cancer, followed closely by prostate cancer, both with over 200,000 new cases on average each year.
  • Mesothelioma is a cancer of the lungs, so despite its low number of cases, it has the highest fatality rate.
  • There is an average of 1 new mesothelioma case and 1 mesothelioma death for every 100,000 people in the U.S.
  • Men are 4.6 times more likely to develop mesothelioma than women.
  • Mesothelioma fatality rates are higher in the Northern half of the U.S.


Asbestos viewed through an electron microscope. Schroeder and others have likened the risk from PFAS to asbestos–and even Vietnam War-era Agent Orange. Image via Wikimedia Commons/U.S. Geological Survey. Public domain.

Which type of mesothelioma is most common?

Pleural is the most common type of mesothelioma (70-79% of cases).

How is mesothelioma treated?

Chemotherapy is the most common mesothelioma treatment (80% of patients).

What is the life expectancy for someone with mesothelioma?

Depending on the stage when diagnosed, between 14.9 and 22.2 months.

How soon after being exposed to asbestos is someone diagnosed with mesothelioma?

On average it takes 35-40 years to be diagnosed, or anywhere between 10-50 years. Most patients are in their 70’s when they are diagnosed, because it takes many years of repeated exposure to develop.

Mesothelioma Legal Options

There are actually a few different types of claims that may need to be filed for a mesothelioma case. The first option is a personal injury lawsuit, which seeks to prove that the patient became ill due to the negligence of another party. Another option is a wrongful death lawsuit; after a mesothelioma patient passes away, their family can file a claim seeking to prove that the death was caused by negligence. A third option is a trust fund claim. This type of claim seeks compensation from a mesothelioma trust fund, which is set up by companies or the government for this specific purpose. Some companies have a trust fund already set up due to the volume of mesothelioma cases they have caused.

A final type of claim that may apply is a product liability claim. If a product containing asbestos is what caused the patient to develop mesothelioma, they can sue the manufacturer. Regardless of what caused the illness, a mesothelioma attorney can help victims determine what type of claim is best and can help recover compensation.

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