Mesothelioma is often misdiagnosed in women

| Mar 24, 2021 | mesothelioma |

Many Illinois residents unfortunately have personal experience with mesothelioma. An aggressive form of cancer, it is an extremely devastating illness that is usually due to prolonged exposure to asbestos. This type of cancer affects the mesothelium, the thin layer of tissue that covers your internal organs. Although treatments are available, it isn’t curable.

Mesothelioma is generally divided into two types, and each type is based on which part of the mesothelium has been affected. Pleural mesothelioma is the most common type of the cancer, and it’s the type that surrounds the lungs. Peritoneal mesothelioma is a more rare type of the cancer, and it’s the type that affects the abdomen, the testicles, and the heart.

How common is mesothelioma in women?

Women represent about 25% of the mesothelioma cases in the United States. They also tend to have better survival rates than men do, with 45% of women remaining alive one year after diagnosis versus 38% of men. Part of the reason that women are believed to have a better survival rate is because they’re generally diagnosed at a younger age, and they tend to be healthier than men in general. They also tend to have a lower exposure rate to asbestos versus men. There’s also some evidence to suggest that hormonal differences may be the reason that men are affected so much more severely than women.

Why are women commonly misdiagnosed when it comes to mesothelioma?

One of the reasons that mesothelioma sometimes goes undiagnosed in women is because of the general assumption that women tend to get it less frequently than men do. This means that doctors simply aren’t looking for it in many cases. Many of the men who are diagnosed with mesothelioma work in places where they have had exposure to asbestos, while many women who have mesothelioma haven’t necessarily worked in those types of places.