Women have significantly better melanoma-specific survival than men, say researchers, largely due to having a lower risk for lymph node and visceral metastases.
“These results suggest differences in tumor-host interaction across gender,” say Arjen Joosse (Erasmus Medical Centre, Rotterdam, The Netherlands) and co-authors.
They investigated gender differences in survival and disease progression across all stages of cutaneous melanoma in 11,774 individuals diagnosed with the condition between 1978 and 2007, who were enrolled in the Munich Cancer Registry in Germany.
Joosse and team found that women were a significant 38% more likely to survive melanoma than men.
They were also 32% less likely to experience melanoma progression, including a 42% and 44% reduction in risk for lymph node metastasis and visceral metastases, respectively.
Even after first progression and lymph node metastasis, female patients were 19% and 20% more likely to survive than male patients, although this advantage became only borderline significant after women developed visceral metastases.
Joosse et al explain that “proposed explanations for the gender difference in melanoma survival include differences in the distribution confounders, such as age and ulceration; influence of estrogen in females; and the overall longevity of women.”
They conclude that “either a protective factor in females or a melanoma-stimulating factor in males seems to be responsible for an overall less aggressive course of the melanoma in females, and, although affecting progression throughout all melanoma stages, this gender factor seems to have the largest effect on the risk of visceral metastases.”
J Invest Dermatol 2010, MedWire