Women Outlive Men With Cancer

Cancer kills men faster than women

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Women typically live longer than men. This extended life expectancy even extends to survival rates of cancer patients.

Men are more likely to die from cancer than women, according to U.S. vital rates and survival data from a government website, called SEER, that tracks 36 cancers by gender and age. Michael B. Cook, Ph.D., an investigator at the National Cancer Institute, said this pattern held true for a majority of specific cancer types.

"Women live longer with cancer than men with the disease."

The study, published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, found the biggest discrepancies in several cancers:

  • Lip: 5.51 men died compared to 1 woman
  • Larynx: the ratio was 5.37-to-1
  • Esophagus: 4.08-to-1
  • Urinary bladder: 3.36-to-1

In cancers with the highest mortality rates, the same pattern was found:

  • Lung: 2.31-to-1
  • Colorectal: 1.42-to-1
  • Pancreas: 1.37-to-1
  • Leukemia: 1.75-to-1
  • Liver and intrahepatic bile duct: 2.23-to-1

For many cancers, men do have poorer rates of survival, but the differences are only slight.

Cook and his team also analyzed five-year survival rates. Instances where gender did not affect survival rate occured when adjustments were made for age, year of diagnosis, tumor stage and grade.

Cook said it would be difficult to identify a single cause for these differences, but says that a number of factors are thought to play a role.

He concludes that his research suggests the main driving factor has to do with more frequent cancer diagnoses in men, rather than poorer survival once the cancer appears.

He adds that identifying the causes of the gender differences in terms of incidence would go a long way in finding ways to prevent the disease burden in both men and women.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
July 8, 2011
Last Updated:
July 13, 2011