A recent study authored by researchers from the International Mesothelioma Program of the Brigham & Women’s Hospital (IMP) and others has examined the correlation of estrogen and the incidence and survival of mesothelioma. The article describing the study, “Association of RERG Expression with Female Survival Advantage in Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma” was published in CANCERS in February, 2021. In the study, the doctors observed that women have a lower incidence of and relatively greater survivability from malignant pleural mesothelioma compared to men. 

The greater incidence of mesothelioma in men can be explained by the fact that they traditionally have been more likely to work in trades that have exposed them to asbestos, which is universally understood to be the major, if not sole, cause of mesothelioma. However, the IMP study explored the potential relationship between estrogen levels, which are commonly much higher in women than men, and mesothelioma survivability. 

The scientists linked women’s better prognosis to estrogen signaling genes.  They specifically “identified high expression of the RAS like estrogen regulated growth inhibitor gene (RERG), to correlate with longer survival after surgery among women.”  RERG is known to express a protein which prevents the growth and spread of tumor cells.   The study found that women with low RERG expression experienced an increased risk of death compared to women with higher RERG expression.

However, although both sexes have some level of estrogen, there was no association between RERG expression and survival in men. A man’s level of RERG expression, whether high or low, is not associated with longer survival from malignant pleural mesothelioma. While the increased levels of RERG in women can help explain some differences in survivability and prognosis from mesothelioma between men and women, the researchers cautioned that additional investigation is necessary to determine the molecular mechanisms underlying this difference between the sexes. 

The IMP and the Brigham & Women’s Hospital continue to be on the forefront of mesothelioma research and treatment.  The Thornton Law Firm is proud to support this important work. If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, please call the Boston mesothelioma lawyers at Thornton Law Firm at 888-632-0108 to help answer your questions and get you the compensation you deserve.