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Mesothelioma is a type of incurable cancer that develops due to asbestos exposure. Alarmingly, the UK, along with Australia, has the highest death rate of mesothelioma in the world.
Traditionally, mesothelioma has affected more men than women because they have historically worked in jobs where they have been exposed to asbestos, such as:
- Dockyard workers
- Construction workers
- Power station workers
Mesothelioma rates in women are rising
However, since the early 1990s, the rates of mesothelioma in women have almost doubled, increasing by 97%. By comparison, the incidence of mesothelioma in men has risen by 51%.
The number of women dying from mesothelioma is also sadly on the rise. Over the last decade, the mesothelioma death rate in women has increased by 20%, while men’s mortality rates have remained stable.
There are two main types of mesothelioma. Pleural mesothelioma affects the lining of the lungs, and peritoneal mesothelioma affects the lining of the abdomen. Between 2016 and 2018, 17% of pleural mesothelioma cases occurred in females, and 36% of peritoneal mesothelioma cases.
Causes of mesothelioma in women
Women can develop mesothelioma through direct asbestos exposure, just as men do. However, fewer women have worked in occupations that involve direct asbestos exposure.
Instead, women tend to get exposed to asbestos in occupations where the contact with asbestos may not be immediately apparent.
Our specialist asbestos disease lawyers have supported many women that have been diagnosed with mesothelioma after working in jobs in older buildings where asbestos is present, including:
- School teachers, school secretaries, and teaching assistants
- Retail workers
- Bank employees
- Office workers and secretaries
- Clerical workers
- Factory workers
Outside the workplace, we have also helped women who have unfortunately been exposed to asbestos in their homes, such as tenants in rented accommodation and council properties.
Secondary asbestos exposure
Many women have also come into contact with asbestos second hand (also known as secondary asbestos exposure) from their partners or family members, such as:
- Washing work clothes covered in asbestos dust or fibres
- Close physical contact with a family member who has asbestos fibres in their clothes, hair or skin
- Asbestos fibres embedded in furniture and soft furnishings (such as sofas) when a family member has worn contaminated work clothes in the home
Making a mesothelioma claim
Women are less likely than men to consider making an asbestos disease compensation claim. According to research carried out by Mesothelioma UK, only 60% of women with mesothelioma consider getting legal advice than 80% of men.
Women’s reluctance to seek legal support may be because their asbestos exposure is not as apparent as men’s exposure. It can sometimes be harder to pinpoint precisely when and where it took place.
“The rising number of women diagnosed with mesothelioma is of grave concern. We will continue to highlight cases where we have helped women successfully secure maximum mesothelioma compensation to encourage other women to consider coming forward and making a claim.
“Many women may not be aware that the negligence of their former employer or a loved one’s employer may have caused their mesothelioma. Countless others may not know that mesothelioma can develop several decades after their initial exposure and that they can still seek full compensation many years afterwards.”
Raising awareness of mesothelioma in women
Novum Law has joined forces with Mavis Nye, a mesothelioma survivor, campaigner, published author and self-proclaimed ‘meso warrior’ to raise awareness of the growing numbers or women affected by mesothelioma.
Specialist asbestos disease solicitor Rebecca Ryan spoke to Mavis about her story.
Supporting women with mesothelioma
Here are some recent case studies of how we have helped secure compensation for women with mesothelioma:
- Mesothelioma compensation for a woman exposed to asbestos while working in a bank
- Compensation for retired head teacher’s secretary exposed to asbestos and diagnosed with mesothelioma
- Novum Law helps council tenant diagnosed with mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure reach a six-figure settlement