Why Are Mesothelioma Diagnoses Higher in Men?

In many countries, including the U.S., rates of mesothelioma diagnoses are much higher in men than women. From the 1970s to the 1990s, rates increased mostly among men.

Generally, the cause of mesothelioma is asbestos exposure. While environmental contamination is a risk, most hazardous exposure comes from working with asbestos-containing material (ACM). Moreover, jobs with the highest exposure risk often had higher proportions of men (such as mining, firefighting, and the military).

Today, greater numbers of women make up at-risk occupations. Subsequently, rates of asbestos-related diseases have increased among women while leveling off among men.

Occupational exposure to ACM is one factor that can increase your risk of mesothelioma. Other risk factors for men include:

  • Age over 45 years old
  • Certain viral infections
  • Family genetic history
  • Smoking
  • Undergoing radiation

Sources of Asbestos Exposure

Though, fibrous mineral occurs naturally underground. Among men, workplace contact with carcinogens is the primary source of asbestos exposure. Unfortunately, asbestos is present in so many products made before 1990 that a wide variety of careers are affected.

In parts of the country, vermiculite and talc miners risk dangerous asbestos exposure from natural soil deposits. Meanwhile, brake mechanics and construction workers face health risks from ACMs (including brake and clutch linings, floor tiles, insulation, and more).

Workers from the following industries have a risk for a history of asbestos exposure. Primarily, those who worked in affected industries before the 1990s have the greatest risk. Yet, even today, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fines companies for asbestos negligence. Consequently, workers today continue to experience consistent levels of asbestos-related illness.

How Does Mesothelioma Affect Men’s Health?

In most cases, the toxin’s fibers end up in the respiratory system. As a result, pleural mesothelioma (affecting the lining of the lungs) accounts for about 85% of mesothelioma cases. Initially, men with pleural mesotheliomas inhale fibers too small to see through their nose or mouth. Then, because the body can’t remove the particles, the invaders change cells’ DNA.

Other asbestos-related diseases caused by breathing in the carcinogen include:

  • Asbestosis
  • Pleural effusion
  • Pleural plaques
  • Thickening of pleural lining

Usually, peritoneal mesothelioma is a risk for those who swallowed asbestos fibers. Also, people may have coughed up particles after inhalation, only to swallow them. Peritoneal mesothelioma’s tumors develop in the lining of the abdominal cavity. Currently, about 10% of new diagnoses are for this type.

Other types of asbestos-induced cancers men in at-risk careers face include:

  • Colon cancer
  • Larynx cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Pharynx cancer
  • Rectal cancer
  • Stomach cancer

For men, specifically, testicular cancers are another risk after asbestos exposure. Though incredibly rare, affecting approximately 1% of men with the disease, testicular mesothelioma is a health threat. Officially, the cancer is known as tunica vaginalis testis mesothelioma.

Diagnosing and Treating Testicular Mesotheliomas

Usually, if you notice a lump in your scrotum, you should talk to a doctor as soon as possible. Though rare, some men with testicular mesotheliomas reported an enlarged scrotum (often the result of water retention). Diagnosing cancers in the testes usually involves an ultrasound (or other imaging test) or blood test for cancer markers.

Treatment for testicular mesothelioma depends on the man’s stage of cancer, his ability to endure treatment, and his goal for treatment overall. If caught early, surgery removes the largest tumor or tumors. Chemoradiation may follow surgery. However, advanced-stage cancers that have spread beyond the original tumor require more complex therapies. Usually, it involves a combination of surgery, chemo, radiotherapy, and a targeted therapy.

5-Year Relative Survival Rates
Type of Cancer SEER Cancer Stage Rate of Surviving Patients After 5 Years
Testicular cancer
Localized tumors 99%
Regional spread of tumors 96%
Distant spread 73%
Pleural mesothelioma
Localized tumors 18%
Regional spread of tumors 12%
Distant spread 7%

Often, mesothelioma is often called an aggressive form of cancer. This is due to the disease’s tendency to grow tumors and spread to other areas of the body more quickly than other types of cancer. As such, testicular mesothelioma cancers largely depend on the stage at which it’s caught.

Early Cancer Screening

Normally, men discover testicular cancers through self-examination. Afterward, most men choose to visit a doctor for a test to diagnose the problem and check their health. However, many men can catch health problems all over the body early by attending early cancer screenings regularly.

For asbestos workers, and any worker with a high risk of handling ACM, doctors recommend annual mesothelioma screenings. According to the American Cancer Society, men with even an average risk for colorectal cancers should be screened:

  • Regularly at age 45
  • After age 75 if they have a life expectancy greater than 10 years
  • Between the ages of 75 and 85 based on personal health
  • Screenings not recommended for men over 85 years old
Getting Help for Meso

After being diagnosed with mesothelioma, many men struggle with their next steps. Men and their families may be able to make a legal claim from a trust for a monetary reward. Also, certain federal benefits could be available.

Meet with a knowledgeable mesothelioma attorney as soon as possible to talk about your options.

Mesothelioma Support Team

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