By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD
According to a new analysis of 36 different types of tumors and blood cancers that affect both sexes, men are more likely than women to get and die of cancer. The report shows that leukemia and cancers of the colon and rectum, pancreas, and liver killed about one and a half to two times as many men as women in the U.S. over a 30-year period. Lung cancer killed nearly two and a half times as many men during that time. According to the American Cancer Society 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.
The report was published this week in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. In the study, researchers at the National Cancer Institute analyzed federal mortality data from 1977 to 2006, including 36 different cancers that are diagnosed in both women and men.
The reason for this difference is not known, but it may be due in part to lifestyle factors such as more smoking and drinking and fewer doctors' visits or cancer screenings among men, says Mikkael Sekeres, a cancer epidemiologist at the Cleveland Clinic's Taussig Cancer Institute, who was not involved in the study. He said, “Some cancers are unavoidable because of factors like genetic predisposition. But where there are things that we can control, we should do our best to do so.” Dr. Sekeres added that women have earlier-stage cancers at diagnosis in general because women are more likely to get symptoms checked out. He said, “The take-home point from this article is: Guys, don't blow off symptoms or screenings, and adopt healthy lifestyles.”