Mesothelioma: exploring gender differences in time to diagnosis, seeking legal advice and occupational risk
Intended for healthcare professionals
Evidence and practice    

Mesothelioma: exploring gender differences in time to diagnosis, seeking legal advice and occupational risk

Michaela Senek Research Associate, School of Health Sciences, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, England
Steven Robertson Programme Director, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, England, and emeritus professor, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, England
Angela Tod Professor, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, England
Molly Squibb Office Senior, HASAG Asbestos Disease Support, Southampton, England

Why you should read this article:
  • To refresh your knowledge of mesothelioma and its link to occupational exposure to asbestos

  • To enhance your awareness of gender differences in the occupational risk of mesothelioma

  • To identify how you could improve your care of patients following a diagnosis of mesothelioma

Background Gender differences in the incidence of, and survival from, malignant mesothelioma are well documented. However, other possible gender differences – such as initial symptom development, experience of the diagnosis, occupational risk and the extent to which patients seek legal advice and receive compensation – are less well understood.

Aim To explore gender differences among patients with mesothelioma in relation to time from symptom onset to diagnosis, seeking legal advice and receiving compensation, and occupational risk.

Method Statistical analysis was conducted on data collected between January 2016 and December 2018 by HASAG Asbestos Disease Support about 1,177 patients with mesothelioma living in the south and south east of England.

Results It took longer for women to be diagnosed than for men, but the difference was not statistically significant. Women were less likely than men to have sought legal advice, had a longer time from diagnosis to receiving compensation, and were less likely to have received compensation. In women, the occupational risk was more likely to be linked to indirect exposure to asbestos in a potentially contaminated work environment than to direct exposure.

Conclusion The emphasis on the risk of exposure to asbestos in high-risk occupations may have obscured the risk of exposure in low-risk occupations. Gender differences in mesothelioma could be reduced by enhancing awareness of the risk of low-level exposure to asbestos, reviewing diagnostic processes and improving support and information for patients.

Cancer Nursing Practice. doi: 10.7748/cnp.2020.e1745

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and has been checked for plagiarism using automated software



Conflict of interest

None declared

Senek M, Robertson S, Tod A et al (2020) Mesothelioma: exploring gender differences in time to diagnosis, seeking legal advice and occupational risk. Cancer Nursing Practice. doi: 10.7748/cnp.2020.e1745

Acknowledgements The Gendered Experience of Mesothelioma Study (GEMS) is a Mesothelioma UK collaborative study supported by donations from 12 King’s Bench Walk, HASAG Asbestos Disease Support, Irwin Mitchell Solicitors, Mesothelioma UK, the Papworth Mesothelioma Social Group and Royds Withy King

Published online: 14 December 2020

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