Background: When combined with a history of occupational asbestos exposure, mesothelioma is often presumed work-related. In Canada, workers diagnosed with mesothelioma caused by occupational asbestos exposure are often eligible for compensation under provincial workers' compensation boards. Although occupational asbestos exposure causes the majority of mesothelioma, Canadian research suggests less than half of workers actually apply for compensation. Alberta's mandatory reporting requirements may produce higher filing rates but this is currently unknown. This study evaluates Alberta's mesothelioma filing and compensation rates.
Methods: Demographic information on all mesothelioma patients diagnosed between 1980 and 2004 were extracted from the Alberta Cancer Board's Cancer Registry and linked to Workers' Compensation Board of Alberta claims data.
Results: Alberta recorded a total of 568 histologically confirmed mesothelioma cases between 1980 and 2004. Forty-two percent of cases filed a claim; 83% of filed claims were accepted for compensation.
Conclusions: Patient under-reporting of compensable mesothelioma is a problem and raises larger questions regarding under-reporting of other asbestos-related cancers in Alberta. Strategies should focus on increasing filing rates where appropriate.