NOS News•today, 10:41
Men with a certain type of cancer are more likely than women to receive treatment aimed at shrinking the tumor. In female patients, treatment is more often focused on pain relief and other forms of symptom reduction. The Comprehensive Cancer Center of the Netherlands (IKNL) wants to find out why this is the case.
The difference in treatment is one of the conclusions in a study by the IKNL itself. The knowledge institute analyzed figures about cancer types that occur in both men and women and listed the differences.
There is a difference in treatment, including in the case of metastatic colorectal cancer. 48 percent of male patients over the age of 70 receive tumor-targeted treatment, compared to 40 percent of women. A similar difference can be seen, for example, in melanoma and advanced stomach and esophageal cancer.
More research needed
The origin of the difference has not been investigated. Ultimately it is up to the patient which treatment takes place; why it is that women relatively often choose supportive care, and to what extent doctors play a role in this, is unclear. “Such a decision could be due to a lot of things,” said IKNL researcher Mieke Aarts NOS Radio 1 News. “For example, the extent to which a disease has spread, or the fitness of a patient.”
According to Aarts, it is possible that doctors approach men and women differently. “But we don’t know that. We have not investigated how conversations take place in the consultation room.” The IKNL calls for more research into this decision-making process.
It is also unclear whether there is a difference in the effectiveness of the various treatments between men and women. This also needs to be further investigated, says the IKNL.
The other way around with lung cancer
There are also types of cancer for which there is no difference in treatment between men and women. And in metastatic lung cancer, the difference is reversed: women receive tumor-targeted treatment more often than men.
However, the latter can be explained, according to researcher Aarts. “Women are more likely to be affected by a mutation of the virus in lung cancer, for which targeted therapy is available.”
Differences become smaller
The cancer types that the IKNL has included in the figures are more common in men than in women, it was already known from previous research. But those numbers are increasing.
This is partly because gender differences in risk behavior have decreased in recent years. For example, women have started smoking relatively more often than men.