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Mesothelioma’s Effect on Women – Statistics You Should Know About
For most of the past century, the rare and aggressive asbestos cancer known as mesothelioma has been thought to be primarily the bane of men. It was men, after all, who made up the majority of the nation’s blue-collar, occupational workforce throughout the 1900s, populating the many steam plants, refineries, chemical plants, steel mills, shipyards and factories where asbestos products were most commonly incorporated into facility operations, such as insulating the pipes, furnaces and ships’ boiler rooms at those jobsites.
In the early 1990s, however, it came to the attention of medical professionals that more women were being diagnosed with mesothelioma, a rare but deadly cancer caused by exposure to the mineral asbestos. Although an increasing number of women joined the industrial workforce throughout the 1960s, a majority of women continued to keep house (sometimes doing both), which usually included laundering their husbands’ dust-ridden work clothes. As these women took to their back porches and laundry rooms to shake out the dusty work clothes of men who worked with and around asbestos, they were unknowingly releasing millions of invisible, microscopic asbestos fibers into the air all around them, which they could not help but breathe in. Women began to develop mesothelioma at increasing rates.
However, due to the extremely long latency period of asbestos diseases like mesothelioma, it might be 20 to 50 years before any hint of asbestos cancer developed in a woman’s body, and due to the rarity of mesothelioma, especially in women, an accurate diagnosis wasn’t always made. Now, new statistics are emerging which shed light on exactly how prevalent a diagnosis of mesothelioma is in women.
Recently, Duke University scientists conducted a study of women diagnosed with mesothelioma. The study, published in the March 2020 edition of the American Journal of Surgical Pathology, researched the frequency with which females receive a mesothelioma diagnosis and what kinds of mesothelioma they develop.
A total of 354 women with malignant mesothelioma were studied, selected from a database of 2,858 mesothelioma cases. The women in the study were between the ages of 19 and 93 at the time of their diagnosis, with an average age of 65. The university’s research revealed that more than three-fourths of these women developed pleural mesothelioma, which occurs in the lining of the lungs. Another 22 percent developed peritoneal mesothelioma, which occurs in the lining of the abdomen. The vast majority of women were exposed to asbestos through “household contact”, as in washing the dusty work clothes of their sons, husbands, fathers and brothers. Five percent of the women were found to also have the disease of asbestosis, and almost half of the women in the study also had pleural plaques in their lungs, a further indication of asbestos exposure.
In a bit of slightly better news, the Duke study found that females were more likely to be diagnosed with the epithelioid subtype of mesothelioma, which is a little easier to treat than sarcomatoid and biphasic mesothelioma, the subtypes most commonly found in males with the disease. Overall, this research is statistically significant because people still tend to think of mesothelioma as a men’s disease. We now have additional information to show the rate and kinds of mesothelioma cancers that develop in women, too.
If you or someone you love has been affected by mesothelioma cancer caused by asbestos, you might be able to take legal action against the asbestos manufacturers responsible for your suffering. Please contact Baron & Budd online or call 855-280-7664 to learn more.