Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Men Have Higher Cancer Death Rates Than Women

Study Suggests Diagnosis of Cancer Is More Frequent for Men
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

July 12, 2011 -- Men are more likely than women to die of cancer in the U.S., a new study shows.

"Our research suggests that the main factor driving greater frequency of cancer deaths in men is the greater frequency of cancer diagnosis, rather than poorer survival once the cancer occurs," says study researcher Michael B. Cook, PhD, BsC, of the National Cancer Institute.

The study is published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

Cook says that if investigators "can identify the causes of these gender differences in cancer incidence, then we can take preventative actions to reduce the cancer burden in both men and women."

Analyzing the Cancer Gender Gap

Cook and his research team analyzed U.S. data from a large database that contained statistics on 36 cancers by age and sex for the period of 1977 to 2006.

For "the vast majority" of the cancers, rates were higher among men than women, the researchers write.

The highest male-to-female death rate ratios were 5.51 men for every woman for lip cancer, 5.37 to 1 for cancer of the larynx, and 4.47 to 1 for cancer of the hypopharynx (a type of throat cancer).

The male-female death rate ratio for cancer of the esophagus was 4.08 to 1, and 3.36 to 1 for urinary bladder cancer.

Many cancers with the highest overall death rates also showed greater death risk for men than women. The male-female ratios for lung cancer were 2.31 to 1, for colorectal cancer 1.42 to 1, and 1.37 to 1 for pancreatic cancer.

For leukemia, the male-female ratio was 1.75 to 1, and for liver and intrahepatic bile duct cancer the ratio was 2.23 to 1.

5-Year Survival Rates

Researchers analyzed the five-year survival rate of people with many types of cancer. Men had poorer survival than women for most, but the researchers say they could not assign a "singular root cause."

However, differences in screening of people without symptoms, the presence of other illnesses or health care behaviors, and differences in the behavior of the cancer may be factors in the higher male-to-female death rate for cancer, according to the researchers.

Today on WebMD

Colorectal cancer cells
New! I AM Not Cancer Facebook Group
Lung cancer xray
See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
Ovarian cancer illustration
Real Cancer Perspectives
Jennifer Goodman Linn self-portrait
what is your cancer risk
colorectal cancer treatment advances
breast cancer overview slideshow
prostate cancer overview
lung cancer overview slideshow
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
Actor Michael Douglas