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Why more men die from cancer than women

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Men and cancer

Cancer strikes more men than women

Researchers from the American Association for Cancer Research find men are more likely to die from specific types of cancer, compared to women. The reason, according to the authors is that more men develop specific types of cancer than women.

A study led by Michael B. Cook, Ph.D., an investigator in the division of cancer epidemiology and genetics at the National Cancer Institute, looked at 36 types of cancer to understand if there are gender differences in survival.

What they found, from exploring U.S.vital rates and survival data from the SEER database is that lung and bronchus, colon and rectum, pancreatic, leukemia, and liver and intrahepatic bile duct cancers kill more men than women and also had the highest mortality rates overall.

For every women who dies from lung and bronchus cancer, 2.31 men die. The mortality ratio for colon and rectal cancer, male to female was 1.42-to-1; pancreas,1.37-to-1; leukemia,1.75-to-1 and liver and intrahepatic bile duct 2.23-to-1.

Lip, bladder, larynx, hypopharynx and esophageal cancer had a highest male to female mortality ratios. For lip and bladder cancer, male to female mortality rates were 5.51 to 1 and 3.36-to-1 respectively. For larynx, hypopharynx and esophageal cancer, the ratios were 5.37-to-1; 4.47-to-1; 4.08-to-1.

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In the study, Cook and colleagues found types of cancer had no significant difference in five year survival rates.

According to Cook:

“Our research suggests that the main factor driving the greater frequency of cancer deaths in men is the greater frequency of cancer diagnosis, rather than poorer survival once the cancer occurs,” If we can identify the causes of these gender differences in cancer incidence then we can take preventative actions to reduce the cancer burden in both men and women.”

The findings are published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research. For men with certain types of cancer, the chances of dying are greater than in women. For survival times, the research showed no gender differences.

Sex Disparities in Cancer Mortality and Survival
Michael B. Cook, Katherine A. McGlynn, Susan S. Devesa, Neal D. Freedman, and William F. Anderson
Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers; doi:10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-11-0246

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