Females have advantage in melanoma survival

June 10, 2013

Women who contract melanoma may have higher survival rates than those of men who get the disease, due to a biologic sex trait, results of a recent study indicate.

 

Women who contract melanoma may have higher survival rates than those of men who get the disease, due to a biologic sex trait, results of a recent study indicate.

Investigators with Erasmus University Medical Center, Rotterdam, Netherlands, studied sex differences in progression and survival of the disease in 2,734 patients with stage 3 metastatic melanoma and 1,306 patients with stage 4 metastatic melanoma.

Among the patients with stage 3 cancer, women had a superior five-year disease-specific survival rate compared to men (51.5 versus 43.3 percent; adjusted hazard ratio, 0.85), according to the study abstract. The adjusted hazard ratio was 0.86 for relapse-free survival.

Female patients also demonstrated an advantage in disease-specific survival in stage 4 disease, with the two-year survival rate at 14.1 versus 19.0; adjusted hazard ratio, 0.81). Among patients who had a higher metastatic tumor load the advantage of females over males was smaller, researchers found.

“The persistent independent female advantage, even after metastasis to lymph nodes and distant sites, contradicts theories about sex behavioral differences as an explanation for this phenomenon,” the study authors concluded. “A biologic sex trait seems to profoundly influence melanoma progression and survival, even in advanced disease.”

The findings were published online May 20 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.