Men have a lower cancer survival rate than women, study finds

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Men are less likely than women to survive different types of cancer, according to a new Australian study.

The research, published in Cancer Causes & Control, found men to have lower five-year survival rates than women for 11 of the 25 cancer types investigated - including the head and neck, oesophagus, colon or rectum, pancreas, lung, bone, melanoma, mesothelioma, kidney, thyroid, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

On the other hand, women had a lower survival rate than men for cancers of the bladder, renal pelvic or ureter.

The study involved Cancer Council Victoria, the University of Melbourne's School of Population and Global Health Centre for Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Austin Health and the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services.

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The researchers used Victoria’s cancer registry data from 1982 to 2015 for 240,801 men and 173,773 women aged between 15 and 99.

It excluded non-melanoma skin cancer, sex-specific cancers, breast cancer and cancers notified via autopsy and death certificate.

The results found that the five-year net survival for the 25 cancer types combined was lower for men than women, and the excess rate of death due to cancer was 13 per cent higher for men.

“The survival disadvantage for men was significant for 11 cancers: head and neck, oesophagus, colon/rectum, pancreas, lung, bone, melanoma, mesothelioma, kidney, thyroid and non-Hodgkin lymphoma,” the researchers stated.

“In contrast, women had poorer prognosis than men for cancers of the bladder, renal pelvis and ureter. Sex differences in cancer survival have decreased since 1982 for colorectal and pancreatic cancer to the point where they are no longer apparent. In contrast, for lung cancer, the male survival disadvantage is worse today than previously.”

Previous studies have acknowledged that sex is an important factor in the prognosis of some cancers, however this new study is one of very few large-scale studies that have investigated whether a person’s sex impacts their chances of surviving cancer.

Lead researcher Nina Afshar concluded that men had worse survival than women for many cancers, particularly at middle age, but further work needs to be done to identify the reasons for the disparities.

"Identifying and understanding the complex mechanisms behind sex differences in cancer survival will help to establish effective interventions to reduce inequalities and improve cancer outcomes for both men and women.”

For more on this topic, this is what to eat on the anti-cancer diet, and this is the true story of a woman whose doctors told her pain was IBS but it was actually cancer.

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