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Study Finds Molecular and Clinical Gender Differences in Mesothelioma

mesothelioma coupleMalignant pleural mesothelioma may act differently in men and women due to differences at the molecular level.

Researchers in some of the nation’s top medical centers say understanding these gender-specific mesothelioma traits may lead to new and better treatments.

“Insight into the survival advantage of female patients may advance the molecular understanding of malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) and identify therapeutic interventions that will improve the prognosis for all MPM patients,” says study author Assunta De Rienzo, PhD, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Understanding Gender-Specific Mesothelioma Traits

Mesothelioma researchers have long known that women with mesothelioma have a survival advantage over male mesothelioma patients.

Now, scientists at Harvard, Massachusetts General Hospital and the Baylor College of Medicine believe they are moving closer to understanding these gender differences in mesotheliomaand quantifying their impact.

The group performed whole-genome sequencing to examine the gene profile of mesothelioma tumors from ten malignant pleural mesothelioma patients. They did the same for ten healthy patients.

Mesothelioma Gender Differences in the Genome

The study revealed a number of gender differences in the genomes of male and female mesothelioma patients, as well as in the genomes of people with different subtypes of mesothelioma.

Certain kinds of chromosomal abnormalities, such as chromosome 22q loss, were seen more frequently in patients with epithelioid mesothelioma than in non-epithelioid types.

Among the gender difference in mesothelioma were more frequent mutations of the TP53 gene among female patients. At the same time, both men and women with higher levels of BAP1 expression were more likely to have non-epithelioid mesothelioma tumors and shorter survival.

“Collectively, our findings indicate that diverse mechanisms highly related to gender and histology appear to drive malignant pleural mesothelioma,” says Dr. De Rienzo.


De Rienzo, A, et al, “Gender=Specific Molecular and Clinical Features underlie Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma”, November 10, 2015, Cancer Research, Epub ahead of print

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