Study Finds Mesothelioma Therapies Underutilized in WomenResearch & Clinical Trials
Written by Tim Povtak
Asbestos.com is the nation’s most trusted mesothelioma resource
The Mesothelioma Center at Asbestos.com has provided patients and their loved ones the most updated and reliable information on mesothelioma and asbestos exposure since 2006.
Our team of Patient Advocates includes a medical doctor, a registered nurse, health services administrators, veterans, VA-accredited Claims Agents, an oncology patient navigator and hospice care expert. Their combined expertise means we help any mesothelioma patient or loved one through every step of their cancer journey.
More than 30 contributors, including mesothelioma doctors, survivors, health care professionals and other experts, have peer-reviewed our website and written unique research-driven articles to ensure you get the highest-quality medical and health information.
About The Mesothelioma Center at Asbestos.com
- Assisting mesothelioma patients and their loved ones since 2006.
- Helps more than 50% of mesothelioma patients diagnosed annually in the U.S.
- A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.
- 5-star reviewed mesothelioma and support organization.
My family has only the highest compliment for the assistance and support that we received from The Mesothelioma Center. This is a staff of compassionate and knowledgeable individuals who respect what your family is experiencing and who go the extra mile to make an unfortunate diagnosis less stressful. Information and assistance were provided by The Mesothelioma Center at no cost to our family.LashawnMesothelioma patient’s daughter
How to Cite Asbestos.com’s Article
Povtak, T. (2020, December 14). Study Finds Mesothelioma Therapies Underutilized in Women. Asbestos.com. Retrieved October 2, 2023, from https://www.asbestos.com/news/2020/06/15/mesothelioma-treatment-disparities-women/
Povtak, Tim. "Study Finds Mesothelioma Therapies Underutilized in Women." Asbestos.com, 14 Dec 2020, https://www.asbestos.com/news/2020/06/15/mesothelioma-treatment-disparities-women/.
Povtak, Tim. "Study Finds Mesothelioma Therapies Underutilized in Women." Asbestos.com. Last modified December 14, 2020. https://www.asbestos.com/news/2020/06/15/mesothelioma-treatment-disparities-women/.
A multicenter research team of specialists has uncovered a surprising underutilization of treatments for pleural mesothelioma cancer in women.
Clinical Lung Cancer recently published the findings, which showed a significant sex-based disparity in the receipt of care for women when compared with that of men.
Women were 15% less likely to receive aggressive mesothelioma surgery that has proven its worth in extending lives for this cancer, which has no definitive cure. They also were 20% less likely to receive chemotherapy than were men.
“This is concerning, absolutely,” Dr. Charles Simone, chief medical officer at the New York Proton Center and one of the researchers told The Mesothelioma Center at Asbestos.com. “We should be making sure that women are getting full access to the most advanced treatments, just as men are.”
The study was the largest, most robust analysis ever on the topic using a national hospital-based registry that included more than 18,000 patients. It was taken from the National Cancer Database.
Researchers were from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, the MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas and the New York Proton Center.
“A patterns-of-care assessment exposed concerning disparities in receipt of treatment, as females were less likely to receive chemotherapy and surgery, despite deriving great benefit from receipt of all therapies,” the authors wrote. “Such underutilization of therapy in females is unexpected.”
Women with Pleural Mesothelioma Still Live Longer
The report also confirmed earlier, smaller studies that have shown women with malignant pleural mesothelioma typically live longer than men with the disease.
In the cohort being studied, women had an overall survival rate of 45.3% at one year and 25.7% at two years, compared to men at 38.4% and 16.3%. The mean overall survival was 20.8 months for women and 15.8 months for men.
This survival advantage typically has been attributed to younger age, histology (more epithelioid variety) and fewer comorbidities at the time of diagnosis.
“The study crossed off one important reason women may do better. It’s not because they are treated more aggressively,” Simone said. “As we’ve seen, if anything, they are treated less aggressively than their male counterparts.”
Mesothelioma Surgery Increases Survival
Women account for only 20% to 25% of all pleural mesothelioma cases. The cancer is caused by the inhalation or ingestion of asbestos fibers. A large majority of cases involve occupational exposure to the toxic mineral.
With surgery, women increased their survival times to 63.7% at one year and 42.6% at two years. With chemotherapy alone, women had overall survival of 59.4% and 32.3%. With trimodality therapy (surgery, chemotherapy and radiation), the numbers soared to 82.1% and 51.6%.
The sexual disparity in treatment was puzzling because the survival advantages women have also are factors that typically make them better surgical candidates.
Less than 25% of all patients diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma undergo aggressive surgery. Too often, the disease already has metastasized before it is diagnosed.
“More women than men seem to have all three of the checkmarks that drive who is a surgical candidate,” Simone said. “One thing we can’t control is that maybe women were more likely to decline the surgery that is offered. But that seems unlikely. It’s too big a difference.”
Women Missing Mesothelioma Treatment Opportunity
Many of the mesothelioma specialists believe women survive longer than men because of underlying biological and hormonal differences.
The authors estimated that overall survival would improve for women by 6.7 months at one year and 10.8 months at two years with surgery or chemotherapy.
“Potential survival benefits of these magnitudes appear highly clinically significant,” the authors wrote. “Our findings may have therapeutic implications. Carefully selected women with epithelioid histology may benefit from more aggressive treatment compared to men, in order to take advantage of a sex-based advantage in outcomes.”