Women with some forms of malignant pleural mesothelioma may have a greater chance at longer survival following diagnosis than men with the same form of cancer, according to the findings of new research.
In a study published in the medical journal Annals of Thoracic Surgery on June 11, researchers from the Mount Sinai Health System and the North Shore/Long Island Jewish Health System report that three times as many women live for five more years following a malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) diagnosis than men. However, mesothelioma is always ultimately fatal.
The researchers looked at all pathologically confirmed cases of MPM reported in the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database from 1973 to 2009. They found that the five-year survival rate for women as 13.4%, compared to only 4.5% for men. The researchers could determine no cause for the increased survivability.
“This large data set confirms that although MPM is less common in women, they present with similar stage and are offered similar treatment options compared with men,” the researchers found. “Nevertheless, survival is far better in women compared with men, independent of confounders such as age, stage, and treatment. Differences in asbestos exposure, tumor biology, and the impact of circulating hormones on host response must be investigated to understand this survival advantage and improve prognosis for patients of both genders.”
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer, which is only known to be caused by exposure to asbestos and breathing asbestos fibers. It is a lethal disease that is often at a very advanced stage when a diagnosis is made, resulting in a very short life-expectancy.
Mesothelioma lawsuits are the longest-running mass tort in U.S. history, with more than 600,000 people having filed a case against more than 6,000 defendants after being diagnosed with cancer that was allegedly caused by inhaling asbestos fibers.
In addition to claims for workers exposed to asbestos, in recent years there have been a growing number of secondary exposure mesothelioma cases have been brought in recent years, with wives, children and other family members alleging they developed the disease after breathing asbestos fibers brought home in the hair or on the clothing of individuals who worked directly with the material.