Purpose: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the fifth most common cancer worldwide. HCC is notably more prevalent in males worldwide, with reported male:female ratios ranging from 2:1 to 8:1. The reasons for sex differences in the incidence of HCC are unclear. Furthermore, differences in rates of disease progression and longevity are not well studied and few series have compared the clinicopathologic characteristics of patients and their impact on survival with specific reference to gender in a large sample set.
Methods: The present study is a large single-institution study of 1138 HCC cases referred to a single individual carried out over a period of 17 years. The primary endpoint measure was over-all survival measured in months, which was defined as the time between the date of diagnosis and date of death. Differences in median survival for each subgroup analysis in survival rates were compared by log rank test.
Results: There are differences in both the distribution of evidence of disease progression at the time of diagnosis and the time for survival following diagnosis in patients with HCC between the two genders. Females had a longer survival than males in subsets matched for residual liver function and tumor extension, suggesting that the natural history of HCC is different between men and women.
Conclusion: The present study provides evidence that female gender provides a distinct survival advantage over males in unresectable HCC presenting with similar tumor characteristics, liver function, and coexisting liver disease.