The incidence of mesothelioma is higher in certain occupational groups including asbestos mining and disposal and construction industries (Rake et al 2009).
These are industries and occupations that have traditionally had higher rates of male employment. There is a lack of knowledge and understanding of the occupational and environmental exposure of women to asbestos and related mesothelioma diagnosis.
There are new treatments for mesothelioma that offer promise in terms of length and quality of life. It is important to explore any factors influencing access and uptake to new treatments to avoid potential inequalities, including those based on gender.
Consultation with health and legal professionals indicates that women may have a different experience to men regarding mesothelioma in terms of awareness of the disease, diagnosis, access to treatment and compensation and legal processes. There are many possible explanations for this but little research to establish what is actually going on. Initial consultation suggests that women are:
• Less likely to be aware of their exposure and risk
• Less likely to have clear occupational link
• Be less likely to be diagnosed quickly and at an early stage
• Encounter assumptions that women are exposed through para-occupation e.g. from work clothes of male family member rather than their own occupation or environmental exposure
• Less likely to have a claim for benefits or compensation processed
On International Women’s Day, 8 March 2019, Mesothelioma UK held a ‘Ladies’ Lunch’ that was centred around the Gendered Experiences of Mesothelioma (GEM) study. The proposed study will explore men and women’s experiences of mesothelioma to identify the implications for health, social care and legal practices.
We aim to start the project in spring 2019. Later in the year we will be recruiting people to interview them about their mesothelioma experiences. The interviews will be conducted by phone.
If you are interested in knowing more about the study – or in taking part – more information will be available from Mesothelioma UK by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 0800 169 2409.
Thanks to HASAG, Irwin Mitchell, Papworth Mesothelioma Social and Royds Withy King who have provided funding for this valuable study.