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Study: Women have higher mesothelioma survival rates than men

Mesothelioma is a devastating condition that can turn any victim's life upside down. The illness is aggressive and a diagnosis typically comes years or even decades after a person has even been exposed to asbestos, which is generally named as the cause of mesothelioma. However, a recent study suggests that men in particular have lower five-year survival rates than women, suggesting that there may be a number of factors related to asbestos exposure that can affect people differently.

The study looked at more than 14,000 cases of patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma. Researchers discovered that after five years, a much higher rate of women were alive compared to the number of men. In fact, reports indicate that more than 95 percent of men had passed away less than five years after being diagnosed. However, the percentage of women who had passed away during that same time period was much lower, but still significant, at about 87 percent.

There are no firm answers for why women had a better survival rate. Researchers reportedly adjusted their findings to account for certain variables, but the results are based on patients who had the same stage of illness and were given options for treatment that were all quite similar.

Some of the suggestions that have been made to explain why women may live longer than men included initial source of exposure and hormones. Male victims of mesothelioma often worked in areas of highly concentrated asbestos, while females were more often victims of second-hand asbestos exposure which could impact survival rates. Another reason could be linked to female hormones that could affect the way the illness grows.

However, it does not matter if a victim is male or female. Any person who has been exposed to dangerous levels of the toxic fiber can be at risk for developing an asbestos-related illness, and it can be devastating for anyone to cope with the complications of such a serious illness. However, this research could help physicians understand what factors may improve survival rates in order to help future victims of asbestos-related diseases.

Source: Surviving Mesothelioma, "Women Much More Likely to Survive Mesothelioma than Men," June 15, 2014

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