Men more likely to die from cancer
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) study, which looked at a database of 36 types of cancer from 1977 to 2006, found that the highest male-to-female death rate ratios were 5.51 men for every woman for lip cancer, 5.37 to one for larynx cancer, and 4.47 to one for cancer of the hypopharynx — a type of throat cancer.
The male-female death rate ratio for cancer of the oesophagus was be 4.08 to 1, and 3.36 to 1 for urinary bladder cancer, according to the study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.
"Our research suggests that the main factor driving greater frequency of cancer deaths in men is the greater frequency of cancer diagnosis, rather than poorer survival once the cancer occurs," study author Michael Cook was quoted as saying by online health journal WebMD.
If investigators "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," he said.
Many cancers with the highest overall death rates also showed greater death risk for men than women. The male-female ratios for lung cancer — which is the leading cause of cancer deaths for both men and women — were 2.31 to one, while the figure was 1.42 to one for colorectal cancer, and 1.37 to one for pancreatic cancer.
For leukaemia, the male-female ratio was 1.75 to one, and for liver and intrahepatic bile duct cancer the ratio was 2.23 to one.
Only three cancers were found to have a higher death rate in women than men. They included gallbladder cancer, anal cancer and cancer of the peritoneum.
According to Cook, the reason for the difference in mortality rates is "not clear cut." "For many cancer sites, male and female incidence rates have changed disproportionately over time, and this implies that the root cause of sex differences in cancer incidence rates, and by extension cancer mortality rates, are sex differences in tobacco smoking and viral infections, anti-oxidative capacity and hormones and metal toxicity."
The researchers, however, said that more studies are needed to find out the factors responsible for greater rates of diagnosis of cancer among men.