In the face of extremely short survival times for most of those diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma, researchers are looking closely at those who have managed to live for extended periods to determine what it is about them that increases their longevity. One notable characteristic, recently confirmed by a National Cancer Institute study, is that long-term survivors tend to be female. Now researchers are focusing on that factor to see what it is about women that helps them survive this challenging form of cancer longer.
Gender seen as predictive of survival time
The median survival time for malignant mesothelioma is approximately 18 months, but both anecdotally and statistically, it appears that women diagnosed with the disease tend to live much longer than that. A study conducted by Mount Sinai Medical Center researchers relied upon data pulled from the National Cancer Institute database to review medical histories for over 16,000 mesothelioma patients treated in recent years. The researchers goal was to analyze specific characteristics including age, gender, type of mesothelioma and lifestyle in order to identify those factors that were most associated with longer survival times. As summarized in a report published in the medical journal Carcinogenesis, those characteristics included being female, being younger than 60, having higher levels of wealth, having fewer unrelated health issues, and others. The female factor was of particular interest, particularly in light of the fact that it held true even where males and females were the same age and had the same cell type of the asbestos-related disease.
Estrogen seen a potentially playing a role in mesothelioma survival
In light of these results, the Mount Sinai researchers are now trying to determine what it is that is leading to gender having such a strong effect on mesothelioma survival. One theory is that estrogen may offer some kind of protective role against the disease, and scientists may begin testing the impact of estrogen supplementation to male patients to see whether that therapy would prolong survival time.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma and you need information about medical care or other resources, the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net can help. Contact us today at 1-800-692-8608.