A novel descriptive epidemiologic study that will be published in the Journal of Urology is the first study to quantify the differential mortality rates between sexes from non-gender-specific cancers and compare their cancer stage distribution. This study hypothesized that men die more commonly from their cancers than their female counterparts, even after the increased male incidence is accounted for.
Between 1975 and 2004, the National Institutes of Health reported the total cancer burden in the US was higher in males compared to females with an incidence ratio of 1.14; when sex-specific cancers were excluded, the ratio increased to 1.77. Moreover, the yearly male to female cancer mortality ratio was 1.89.
The authors determined that over the last 10 years, the number of men diagnosed with cancer has consistently been 1.5 times greater than the rate for women. While the overall mortality rates attributable to cancer have decreased over 10% for both men and women, the mortality rate for men still exceeds that for women, even for the same type of cancer. While a descriptive study does not explain the reasons for gender differences in oncologic outcomes, previous studies have highlighted differences in modifiable risk factors, differences in healthcare utilization, and intrinsic biological differences between the sexes. In the US, 27% of men report not being evaluated by a physician within the last year compared to 14% of women.
In summary, the authors concluded that men develop and die more often from cancers that should affect men and women equally. However, the number of men diagnosed with non-gender-specific cancer is 50% higher than the number of women diagnosed with cancer. After controlling for higher male incidence of cancers, men have a 12.6% higher mortality rate than women for the same types of cancer.
Reference: Najari BB, Rink M, Li PS, Karakiewicz PI, Scherr DS, Shabsigh R, Meryn S, Schlegel PN, Shariat SF. Sex disparities in cancer mortality: the risks of being a man in the US. J Urol 2012, doi:10.1016/j.juro.2012.11.153.