Many Minnesotans know all too much about the risks of asbestos exposure.
After several years of using asbestos across industries, the risk became clear. Particularly when years later, many workers faced diagnoses of mesothelioma, a rare cancer at the time.
However, according to several studies, workers – who were mostly men – are not the only group at risk. Mesothelioma cases in women have been increasing over the years. Now, women make up 25% of diagnoses.
Why is this so critical to note?
For decades, mesothelioma was mostly associated with men. It was mostly men who faced diagnoses of this occupational cancer because:
- There was a higher number of men in the workforce during the years when asbestos was commonplace
- Men also made up a majority of the workforce in the particular industries and positions with a higher risk of asbestos exposure
It is true that men still have a higher incidence rate of mesothelioma. However, the increasing rate of mesothelioma in women is a serious concern of which individuals must be aware.
Why is the risk appearing now?
There are a few reasons behind the growing rate of diagnoses – and the growing concern – including:
- The more recent findings about secondary asbestos exposure, which affected more women
- Mesothelioma’s latency period playing a role in delaying diagnoses for both men and women
- The higher rate and risk of misdiagnosis in women
Unfortunately, women often face a higher risk of misdiagnosis than men. A recent study in Canada, explaining the case of one woman, highlights this risk. Medical professionals did not consider mesothelioma – even though she showed signs and symptoms of mesothelioma – simply because of the history and higher incidence rate of the disease in men.
Not every case of mesothelioma in women will involve a misdiagnosis, but it is a risk that women should understand.
Learning about these risks can be frightening. However, it is important to be aware of these trends and concerns, so you can recognize symptoms and seek the care you need.