Women and Mesothelioma

James F. Humphreys & Associates, L.C. has represented many victims of mesothelioma, a fatal cancer almost always caused by asbestos exposure.

The most common type of mesothelioma is pleural mesothelioma which develops on the lining of the lungs (about 75% of all cases), followed by peritoneal mesothelioma (about 20% of all cases), which develops in the lining of the abdomen. Pericardial and testicular mesotheliomas make up the rest. Between 2500 and 3000 people are diagnosed with some form of mesothelioma every year in the U.S.

via Unsplash

Traditionally, most victims of mesothelioma have been men, but the gender gap appears to be narrowing. The higher incidence of mesothelioma among men probably results from the fact that they have been more likely to work in jobs where they were exposed to high levels of asbestos. For example, more men served in the military, and in manufacturing and construction jobs.

Currently, about one in four mesothelioma victims are women, but the incidence of mesothelioma among women appears to be increasing.  In part, this may be due to more women working in high risk jobs such as manufacturing. Women may also be developing mesothelioma because of second hand, take home exposure. It is well established that women who wash their husband’s work clothes can be exposed to asbestos dust brought home from work on those clothes and develop asbestos related diseases as a result of such exposure.  Women may also be exposed to asbestos released during the renovation of office buildings and schools built before 1980 where many women work as secretaries, teachers and principals. According to the CDC, mesothelioma deaths are up 2% among women since 2011.

One interesting gender difference is that peritoneal mesothelioma has been more common than pleural among women in recent years (starting about 2011). Asbestos fibers are thought to reach the peritoneum through the digestive tract (after being swallowed) or through the lymphatic system. The good news is that people with peritoneal mesothelioma have a longer life expectancy and prognosis than people with the pleural form of the disease.  The bad news is that peritoneal mesothelioma is more likely to be misdiagnosed because it is not as common. In women, peritoneal mesothelioma and ovarian cancer may be confused.

via Unsplash

Early symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma may include abdominal pain, swelling, tenderness, diarrhea and constipation. Early diagnosis, before the cancer spreads, results in a better prognosis for the patient.

If you or a loved one have developed mesothelioma as result of someone else’s negligence, please contact us at 304-881-0652 (local) or 877-341-2595 (toll free) for a free initial consultation. You may also reach us at our website, JFHumphreys.com!


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