Gender Discrepancy in Cancer Mortality Rates Considerable

Males have higher mortality rates than females, but survival disparities less obvious

TUESDAY, July 12 (HealthDay News) -- Males have higher mortality rates for cancer than females, but cancer survival disparities are much less pronounced between males and females, according to a study published online July 12 in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

Michael B. Cook, Ph.D., from the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md., and colleagues investigated gender differences in mortality and survival for 36 cancers. Data were collected from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results database for the period 1977 to 2006, and compared for sex-specific mortality rates and male-to-female mortality rate ratios (MRR). Each case was also evaluated for age and date of diagnosis, gender, primary tumor site, tumor stage and grade, survival time, vital status, and the cause of death. After adjustments for covariates, the relative cancer-specific hazard ratios (HR) for deaths in the five years following diagnosis were assessed.

The investigators found that males had higher age-adjusted mortality rates as compared to females for the vast majority of cancers, with cancers of lip, larynx, hypopharynx, esophagus, and urinary bladder showing the highest male-to-female MRR (5.51, 5.37, 4.47, 4.08, 3.36, respectively). Though males had worse cancer-specific survivals than females, the differences were considerably less than corresponding MRRs (HR for lip, 0.93; larynx, 1.09; hypopharynx, 0.98; esophagus, 1.05; and urinary bladder, 0.83).

"This analysis shows that male cancer mortality rates were higher than equivalent female rates for a majority of cancers and these differences largely mirror sex differences in cancer incidence. This analysis also shows modestly, but appreciably, worse survival in men for a number of cancers," the authors write.

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