As the common saying goes, Men are from Mars and women are from Venus. Needless to add, men and women are different in ways beyond their physical appearance and personality traits. However, it might surprise you to know that cancer also affects men and women differently. In 2016, a report by Wall Street Journal revealed that genetics may affect how tumors grow in men and women. Even that’s not all; genetics also have a role to play in determining the aggressiveness of cancer and its response to treatment. The genes causing aggressive tumors are more prevalent in men.
Cancer in Men Vs. Cancer in Women
Here’s looking at how cancer affects men and women differently in more ways than one: 1. Statistics suggest that 1 in 2 men will develop some form of the disease in their lifetime, while for the fairer sex, the rate is 1 in every 3 women. It is also interesting to note that cancer in women is mostly limited to breast, colon, endometrial, lung, cervical, skin, and ovarian cancers, while the common types of cancer in men are prostate, colon, lung and skin cancers.
2. According to oncologists, men have a higher likelihood of developing cancer while women are more likely to survive it. From an overall perspective, irrespective of the type of cancer, men are 6% more likely to succumb to their disease as compared to women. If you compare with the same cancer type, then this difference rises to 12%.
3. A recent study has revealed that such differences between the sexes, as far as a cancer risk is concerned, can be attributed partially to carcinogenic exposures and lifestyle factors such as smoking, indulgence in alcohol, and eating fattier foods. All these habits are usually more prevalent amongst men. If we take liver cancer into account, for example, researchers believe that men are almost twice more likely to develop liver cancer than women. This is probably due to heavier alcohol consumption amongst men. Excessive alcoholism in men also accounts for a higher number of cases of head and neck cancers amongst men.
4. Another factor that also may be responsible for this disparity is the fewer doctor visits or cancer screenings for cancer in men, who usually neglect medical care more than women. Consequently, their symptoms often go unchecked for longer, leading to delayed diagnosis, and thus, cancer in men reaches an advanced stage.
5. In certain cases, the risk factors of developing cancer can be traced back to the sex hormones that are responsible for the differences in men’s and women’s immune systems, metabolism and general susceptibility to cancer, along with genetic differences. A study aimed at examining 13 different types of cancers that affect both males and females, concluded that a gender connection for 8 of those cancers, the genetics of men’s tumors are compared to that of women’s.
6. Men and women are also different in terms of how they choose to fight cancer. In 2016, a cancer centre in New York discovered that when men and women analyse their treatment options, men are more driven by data and analysis, while women are more guided by emotions, and often settle for the most aggressive therapy.
7. When it comes to cancer in women, they are also usually more open about seeking guidance from others who have undergone cancer treatment before. They are not hesitant about turning to their peers for advice. Strong social connections are often linked to better health and recovery. Men, on the other hand, are more inclined towards the cost-benefit ratio, and also take time to consider the options and communicate with their physicians.
Genetic Differences For Cancer
Researchers continue to delve deeper into such differences at play, when it comes to cancer in men and women. This will help them be better prepared and take more effective decisions in terms of the treatment. Cancer is often unavoidable, but our best defence is to do what we can to keep it at bay: make healthy lifestyle choices, stay on top of symptoms, and get screened. Oncologists hold on to the opinion that gender plays a key role in the incidence and prognosis of several cancers. In fact, some recent studies have also revealed that how a patient tolerates chemotherapy or how this mode of treatment determines the patient’s outcome are also associated with gender factors. While men and women generally experience the same rates of toxicity from chemotherapy, the side effects differ largely. To elaborate further, women are more prone to experience hair loss, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and mouth ulcers. Men, on the other hand, experience more peripheral neuropathy in the form of weakness, numbness and pain, typically in the hands and feet, which are brought about by nerve damage. Thanks to more research around such gender-based differences, cancer treatment is now being approached with a fresh perspective that will unleash newer horizons. The latest goal in the field of cancer treatment is to develop targeted drugs particularly based on the patient’s gender. Now that precision cancer treatment is well on its way to being developed, researchers are undertaking a closer examination of tumors on a molecular level. Such genetic differences in tumors will help design cancer treatment drugs based on abnormalities in specific genders. Although this form of treatment is still at a preliminary level, doctors and researchers are sanguine about knowing more about tumors on the molecular level. Consequently, this will pave the way for more advanced cancer treatment in the long run. Be it gender and genetics or environmental factors, no single answer can help determine who will be diagnosed with cancer. .
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