Women experience side effects of chemotherapy including nausea, vomiting and hair loss more frequently than men, according to new research.
Data from 1,654 patients showed that women experienced significantly higher rates of nausea and vomiting (89% for women compared with 78% of men) and diarrhoea (54% versus 47%). Hair loss was also suffered more by women – 81% compared with 74% of men.
Researchers at the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust said their findings add to the growing body of evidence that gender can be an important factor in cancer treatment.
“We have known for a long time in oncology that there are differences between males and females in the incidence and prognosis of many non gender-specific cancers,” said Dr Michael Davidson, clinical research fellow at the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust. “However, we are only just beginning to understand how genetic and biological differences between men and women influence cancer development and response to treatment.”
The study, which is being presented at the European Society for Medical Oncology Congress in Germany, analysed data from four randomised trials carried out in the UK and Australasia. All four pieces of research looked at chemotherapy combinations in advanced oesophageal and stomach cancer.
As well as the findings that women experience more side effects, the occurrence of “serious adverse events” during treatment – serious treatment complications which require hospital admission – was higher in women.
However, when looking at chemotherapy effectiveness, there was no difference in survival between men and women, although overall response rate to chemotherapy was higher in men.
Commenting on the research, Professor David Cunningham,...