11 cancers for which men have worse survival rates than women

By Michael Woodhead

12 Sep 2018

Men have a survival disadvantage for many cancers compared to women, cancer registry figures from Victoria show.

The data, covering the period 1982-2015, show that overall five-year cancer survival rates were 47% for men and 52% for women.

For 11 common cancers, men had significantly worse survival rates than women:

  • Head and neck    67.5 vs 72.5%
  • Oesophagus    15.4 vs 20.9%
  • Colorectal    59.8 vs 61.2%
  • Pancreas    6.6 vs 7.3%
  • Lung    11.7 vs 15.2%
  • Bone    62.7 vs 72.5%
  • Melanoma    88.0 vs 93.4%
  • Mesothelioma    5.1 vs 8.4%
  • Kidney    63.8 vs 68.1%
  • Thyroid    89.3 vs 93.7%
  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma     62.9 vs 65.5%

The figures also show that women fare worse than men in terms of mortality for three cancer types: bladder, renal pelvis and ureter.

Published in Cancer Causes and Control, the figures compiled by Cancer Council Victoria’s Cancer Epidemiology and Intelligence Division show that gender disparities in cancer survival are most pronounced for cancer in younger people, and the survival gaps tend to decrease with age.

However the researchers say there is no single underlying reason to explain the male survival disadvantage in cancers. Theories include differences in sex hormones, genetic influences on immune function that protect against cancer, lifestyle factors such as smoking and  alcohol consumption and possibly differing patterns of health behaviour such as participation in screening and awareness and recognition of early symptoms for cancer.

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