Cancer Deaths Found in More Men Than Women, Study Shows

( [email protected] ) Jul 13, 2011 12:44 PM EDT

A new study released this week shows men are at a higher risk of developing cancer during their lifetime than women.

The study, recently published in the journal, “Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention,” shows that for the majority of cancers, men have higher mortality rates than women.

The study focused on about 36 different forms of cancer during a 30-year period. The report also says men are at the greatest risk of dying from specific cancers including esophageal, prostate, lung, colon, and liver.

Prostate cancer is said to be quickly rising as one of the more fatal cancers in men.

Only five cancers, including breast, thyroid and gallbladder cancer, had a higher mortality rate for women than men, the report said.

The American Cancer Society also estimates that men have about a 1 in 2 chance of developing cancer at some point in their lives, compared with women, who have a 1 in 3 chance.

Cancer accounts for nearly 1 in 4 deaths in the U.S., exceeded only by heart disease, according to the American Cancer Society.

Dr. Michael B. Cook, an investigator with the division of cancer epidemiology and genetics at the National Cancer Institute, said in the report that it is difficult to assign any singular root cause for the cancers.

“But influences include differences in behavior of the individual tumor,” he said. “People without symptoms, getting cancer screening, presence of other illnesses, and how often the person gets regular medical care play a role.”

Cook and his team reveal new information in the report showing cancers with the greater risk of death in men than women were: lung cancer and bronchus cancer (2.31-to-1); colon and rectum cancers (1.42-to-1); pancreatic cancer (1.37-to-1); leukemia (1.75-to-1); and liver cancer (2.23-to-1).

Other results in the study show that cancers with the highest male-to-female mortality rate ratios were: lip cancer (where 5.51 men died compared to 1 female); larynx cancer (5.37-to-1); hypopharynx, which is the part of the throat that connects to the esophagus (4.47-to-1); esophageal cancer (4.08-to-1); and urinary bladder cancer, one cancer where women’s death risk was slightly higher than men despite more men receiving more diagnoses (3.36-to-1).

“Our research suggests that the main factor driving the greater frequency of cancer deaths in men is the greater frequency of cancer diagnosis, rather than poorer survival once the cancer occurs,” said Cook.

“If we can identify the causes of these gender differences in cancer incidence then we can take preventative actions to reduce the cancer burden in both men and women.”

Overall, 758,587 men were told they had cancer and 292,853 men died from cancer in the U.S. within a one year period of time, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Combining men and women, a total of 1,596,670 new cancer cases and 571,950 deaths from cancer are projected to occur in the U.S. in 2011.

The news for men is not all bad, according to the latest statistics from the American Cancer Society. There has been a steady reduction in overall cancer death rates.

“Overall cancer incidence rates were stable in men after decreasing by 1.9 percent per year from 2001 to 2005; in women, incidence rates have been declining by 0.6 percent annually since 1998,” said the ACS last month.

Overall, cancer death rates, which have been dropping slightly since the early 1990s, continued to decrease in all racial/ethnic groups in both men and women since 1998 with the exception of American Indian/Alaska Native women, among whom rates were stable.

“There were nearly 900,000 cancer deaths that were avoided over a 17-year period and stand in stark contrast to the repeated claim that cancer death rates have not budged,” said Dr. John R. Seffrin, chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society.

“Nonetheless, we refuse to be satisfied, and are committed to doing whatever it takes, not only to ensure cancer death rates continue to drop, but to accelerate the decline.”

On the Web: Cancer Statistics 2011

Cancer Facts & Figures 2011