New report on gender differences in the experience of asbestos-related cancer

A study investigating the different experiences of men and women regarding the asbestos-related cancer, mesothelioma, has been completed. The results will now be shared with healthcare professionals and policy makers to make recommendations on how health, legal and social support services should best be delivered to be accessible and acceptable to both men and women.

Produced by Mesothelioma UK and the University of Sheffield, the Gendered Experience of Mesothelioma Study (GEMS) report was carried out after consultation with health and legal professionals indicating that women may have a different experience to men in terms of awareness of the disease, diagnosis, access to treatment and compensation and legal processes.

Researchers from the University of Sheffield carried out interviews with patients and key findings included:

  • High risk occupations for men differed from high-risk occupations for women
  • Women of all ages and younger men lacked awareness of the dangers of asbestos exposure
  • Gender differences existed in the experiences of explanations and support provided at the time of diagnosis
  • Men and women’s roles within the family and society influenced how they coped with a diagnosis of mesothelioma
  • Men and women had different ways of communicating with professionals along the mesothelioma pathway
  • Familial and social expectations of men and women influenced their willingness to pursue civil compensation

A full copy of the GEMS report, detailing the findings and recommendations, is now available at

Professor Angela Tod, Division of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Sheffield said: “We’re so grateful to everyone who took part in this research which provides valuable insights into the experiences of women and men living with mesothelioma. The findings and implications from GEMS will provide some guidance and support for professionals working with men and women living with mesothelioma.”

Liz Darlison, Head of Services for Mesothelioma UK added: “We’re learning that gender differences play a big part in how mesothelioma is experienced and that health and legal professionals need to take this into account when supporting patients.

“Mesothelioma UK, alongside the other funders of the research, realises how important this type of research is to improving the care and treatment for all patients. We’re delighted that this report will give professionals information that will help them to provide the best service they can.”

GEMS is a Mesothelioma UK collaborative study, supported by generous donations from 12 King’s Bench Walk, HASAG, Irwin Mitchell, Mesothelioma UK, Papworth Mesothelioma Social Group, and Royds Withy King. GEMS was conducted by the Mesothelioma Patient Experience Research Group at the School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Sheffield.

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