National Women’s History Month

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March is dedicated to celebrating Women’s History. Throughout March, we celebrate the contributions women have made to history and society. National Women’s Month is celebrated in the United States, the United Nations, and Australia and corresponds with International Women’s Day which takes place on March 8th each year.

National Women’s Month traces its roots back to 1911 when the first National Women’s Day was recognized. In February of 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued a presidential proclamation declaring the week of March 8, 1980, as National Women’s History Week. In 1987, Congress passed a resolution to expand the week into a full month of celebrating the important women of history and their stories. Each year, National Women’s Day (March 8) and National Women’s History Month pick a theme to represent the month. In 2023, the theme is “Embrace Equity” and focuses on gender equity and needs in all parts of society.

Nearly 25% of mesothelioma cases in the United States occur in women. Women account for a greater proportion of peritoneal mesotheliomas (mesothelioma that forms in the lower abdomen) than pleural mesotheliomas (mesothelioma that forms in the lung). The opposite is true for men. This may be due to the way women are more commonly exposed to asbestos. Many women are exposed through vaginal dusting with talcum powder, which presents a greater risk to the lower abdomen. Women are also at risk for mesothelioma in similar ways to their male counterparts such as occupational exposure or second-hand exposure from their spouse.

Women with mesothelioma tend to have better survival rates than men with mesothelioma. This is because many females are diagnosed at an early point allowing for earlier access to treatment. Additionally, peritoneal mesothelioma, which accounts for many of the female cases, has higher survival rates than pleural mesothelioma. Some researchers also theorize that estrogen may affect mesothelioma prognosis.

Symptoms of mesothelioma in women can vary based on many factors. Women experiencing pleural mesothelioma commonly reported symptoms that included a cough and chest pain. In addition to the symptoms experienced by men, women diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma expressed several symptoms including:

  • Fluid in the abdominal cavity
    Pelvic pain
  • Abdominal swelling and/or bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Swelling of the lymph nodes above the collarbone
  • Fever
  • Fatigue

Women with peritoneal mesothelioma have experienced substantial rates of misdiagnosis in the past. If you are a woman with known asbestos exposure, you should report your history to your physician.

Women can be exposed to mesothelioma through their spouses. If a woman’s partner works in an environment that has a high risk for asbestos exposure like a Pipefitter, Plumber, Boilermaker, Electrician, Millwright, etc, and she does his laundry, she can be exposed as well. Additionally, women can be exposed to asbestos through contaminated talcum powder used for vaginal dusting.


Women's History Month


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