TUESDAY, May 1 (HealthDay News) -- When it comes to surviving the skin cancer known as melanoma, nature appears to have dealt women a better hand than men, new research suggests.
By almost every measure, an analysis of four European studies found that women can expect a 30 percent better outcome than men following an early stage melanoma diagnosis. That gap, researchers say, may be rooted in basic differences in gender biology.
"The 30 percent advantage applies to survival," said study author Dr. Arjen Joosse, from the department of public health at Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. "It also applies to having a metastasis [spread]: women have a 30 percent lower chance to experience a metastasis to the lymph nodes and to other organs."
Joosse and colleagues from Belgium, Switzerland, Germany and France published their findings in the April 30 online edition of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
In an editorial accompanying the study, Dr. Vernon Sondak, chair of the department of cutaneous oncology at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Fla., noted that just over 70,000 Americans were diagnosed with invasive melanoma in 2011, and about 43 percent of those were women. But, among the roughly 8,800 melanoma-related deaths that year, only 35 percent were female patients.
Joosse noted that the fact that women tend to fare better than men following a melanoma diagnosis is a well-established observation based on prior research, some of which was conducted by the current study team. However, the reasons behind the prognosis gap have remained elusive.
And the new research found an association between gender and melanoma survival, not a cause-and-effect.
To explore the question, Joosse and his team analyzed data concerning nearly 2,700 melanoma patients that was gleaned from four different melanoma treatment trials conducted in Eur
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