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Br J Cancer. 2010 Jul 27;103(3):430-6. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6605781. Epub 2010 Jul 13.

Projection of mesothelioma mortality in Britain using Bayesian methods.

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Health and Safety Laboratory, Harpur Hill, Buxton, Derbyshire SK17 9JN, UK.



Mesothelioma mortality has increased more than ten-fold over the past 40 years in Great Britain, with >1700 male deaths recorded in the British mesothelioma register in 2006. Annual mesothelioma deaths now account for >1% of all cancer deaths. A Poisson regression model based on a previous work by Hodgson et al has been fitted, which has allowed informed statistical inferences about model parameters and predictions of future mesothelioma mortality to be made.


In the Poisson regression model, the mesothelioma risk of an individual depends on the average collective asbestos dose for the individual in a given year and an age-specific exposure potential. The model has been fitted to the data within a Bayesian framework using the Metropolis-Hastings algorithm, a Markov Chain Monte Carlo technique, providing credible intervals for model parameters as well as prediction intervals for the number of future cases of mortality.


Males were most likely to have been exposed to asbestos between the ages of 30 and 49 years, with the peak year of asbestos exposure estimated to be 1963. The estimated number of background cases was 1.08 cases per million population.


Mortality among males is predicted to peak at approximately 2040 deaths in the year 2016, with a rapid decline thereafter. Approximately 91,000 deaths are predicted to occur from 1968 to 2050 with around 61,000 of these occurring from 2007 onwards.

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