Men face 40% higher risk of cancer deaths than women
MEN are almost 40 per cent more likely than women to die from any type of cancer, according to research published today.
They are also about 70 per cent more likely to die from cancers that affect both men and women, excluding diseases such as breast cancer and prostate cancer.
Men are also far more likely to develop the disease in the first place.
The findings are based on cancer rates in the population, adjusted for age, and are part of a new report from the National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN), Cancer Research UK and the Men's Health Forum.
Researchers had expected men and women to be roughly equally as likely to develop and die from cancers that affect both sexes.
There is "no known biological reason" why men should be more likely to develop cancer and die, they said.
But they suggested that "stereotypical" male behaviours – such as down-playing early symptoms, not visiting the doctor and having more unhealthy lifestyles – could be to blame.
The study, published to mark Men's Health Week, found that men were 16 per cent more likely to develop any type of cancer in the first place but more than 60 per cent more likely to develop cancers that can affect both sexes, excluding those that affect just one sex.
Cancers that affect both sexes are oesophagus, stomach, colorectal, liver, pancreatic, malignant melanoma, kidney, bladder, brain and central nervous system, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, multiple myeloma and leukaemia.
Researchers excluded lung cancer from this part of the analysis because the disease is known to be more common among men.
Professor David Forman, information lead for the NCIN, said: "Men have a reputation for having a stiff upper lip and not being as health-conscious as women.
"What we see from this report could be a reflection of this attitude, meaning men are less likely to make lifestyle changes that could reduce their risk of the disease and less likely to go to their doctor with cancer symptoms.
"Late diagnosis makes most forms of the disease harder to treat."
The report looked at the number of cancer deaths in the UK in 2007 and the number of new cases of cancer in 2006.
The cancers that were not specific to either sex were grouped together and the researchers then looked at the ratio of men to women in each category.
In 2006 in the UK, 293,601 people were diagnosed with cancer, including 147,223 new cancers diagnosed in men.
In the UK in 2007, there were 155,484 deaths from cancer, including 80,907 men.
Alan White, professor of men's health at Leeds Metropolitan University and chair of the Men's Health Forum, said: "The evidence shows that men are generally not aware that, as well as smoking, carrying excess weight around the waist, having a high alcohol intake and a poor diet, and their family history all contribute to their increased risk of developing and dying prematurely from cancer.
"However, more research needs to be done before we can be sure exactly why this gender gap exists."
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