13 July 2011

More men die from cancer than women

Men who are diagnosed with cancer are more likely to die from the disease than women, due to a higher initial risk and later detection, research shows.


Men who are diagnosed with cancer are more likely to die from the disease than women, due to a higher initial risk and later detection, US government research showed.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) study looked at a database of 36 different types of cancer from 1977 to 2006.

It found the highest male to female mortality rate ratios for lip cancer, where 5.5 men died for each woman patient, and oesophageal cancer, where 4 men died for each woman patient.

For lung cancer, the research found 2.3 male deaths for each female death, the research team reported online in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

The main reason for the difference is that men are more at risk of developing cancer to begin with, according to Michael Cook, a researcher in the division of cancer epidemiology and genetics at NCI and the study's lead investigator.

Men diagnosed late

The average lifetime chance that a man will develop lung cancer is about one in 13, compared to one in 16 for a woman, according to the American Cancer Society.

American men are also more likely than women to have advanced disease by the time their cancer is diagnosed, Cook said.

He said gender differences in exposure to carcinogens – including tobacco smoke and viral infections – play a role in the rate disparity. The study also cited "universal" mechanisms such as sex chromosomes and hormones that may contribute to gender differences in cancer incidence.

The NCI researchers said there was no single root cause for the rate disparity, but influences include differences in behaviour of the tumour, cancer screening for people without symptoms, presence of other illnesses and whether patients sought healthcare services.

(Reuters Health, July 2011) 

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