J Natl Cancer Inst. 2021 Apr 10:djab075. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djab075. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: Biological sex and gender have been reported to impact incidence and overall survival (OS) of curatively treated gastroesophageal cancer. The aim of this study was to compare palliative treatment allocation and OS between women and men with advanced gastroesophageal cancer.
METHODS: Patients with an unresectable (cT4b) or metastatic (cM1) esophageal (including cardia) adenocarcinoma (EAC) or squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC), or gastric adenocarcinoma (GAC) diagnosed in 2015-2018 were identified in the Netherlands Cancer Registry. Treatment allocation was compared using chi-squared tests and multivariable logistic regression analyses, and OS using the Kaplan-Meier method with log-rank test and Cox proportional hazard analysis. All statistical tests were 2-sided.
RESULTS: Of patients with EAC (n = 3,077), ESCC (n = 794) and GAC (n = 1,836), 18.0%, 39.4% and 39.1% were women, respectively. Women received less often systemic treatment compared to men in EAC (42.7% vs. 47.4%, P = 0.045) and GAC (33.8% vs. 38.8%, P = 0.03), but not in ESCC (33.2% vs. 39.5%, P = 0.07). Women had a lower probability of receiving systemic treatment in GAC in multivariable analyses (odds ratio [OR] = 0.79, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.62-1.00), but not in EAC (OR = 0.86, 95%CI = 0.69-1.06) and ESCC (OR = 0.81, 95%CI = 0.57-1.14). Median OS was lower in women with EAC (4.4 vs. 5.2 months, P = 0.04), but did not differ after adjustment for patient and tumor characteristics and systemic treatment administration.
CONCLUSION: We observed statistically significant and clinically relevant gender differences in systemic treatment administration and OS in advanced gastroesophageal cancer. Causes of these disparities may be sex-based, i.e. related to tumor biology, as well as gender-based, e.g. related to differences in treatment choices.