Sex differences in metastatic surgery following diagnosis of synchronous metastatic colorectal cancer

Int J Cancer. 2023 Feb 1;152(3):363-373. doi: 10.1002/ijc.34255. Epub 2022 Aug 31.


The aim was to investigate gender differences in the likelihood to receive metastatic surgery, and to compare overall survival between men and women, among patients with synchronous metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) in a population-based setting. All Swedish adult patients diagnosed with synchronous mCRC in 2007-2016 were identified using the nationwide colorectal cancer database (CRCBaSe). Unadjusted and adjusted odds ratios (ORs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated using logistic regression, comparing the odds of receiving treatment. The Kaplan-Meier method was used to calculate survival proportions and Cox regression models to estimate hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% CIs of all-cause mortality rates. All multivariable models were adjusted for age, ASA score, Charlson comorbidity index, year of diagnosis, location of primary tumor and single or multiple metastatic locations. A total of 12 201 patients met the study criteria. Women received 23% less metastatic surgery for mCRC (adjusted OR = 0.77, CI:0.69-0.86) and experienced a slightly higher mortality following diagnosis (adjusted HR = 1.09, CI:1.05-1.14). In analyses restricted to patients who received metastatic surgery, no significant differences in mortality were found. In conclusion, this population-based study showed that women less often received metastatic surgery of mCRC and experienced slightly higher all-cause mortality compared with men. The differences persisted despite adjustments of patient and cancer characteristics. Gender differences in receiving treatment are unacceptable if the underlying explanation cannot be motivated. Further studies are needed to understand if the differences are based on sex (i.e., biology) or gender (including clinically unmotivated differences in treatment approach).

Keywords: colorectal neoplasms; neoplasm metastasis; sex; surgery; survival.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Colonic Neoplasms*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Rectal Neoplasms*
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Sex Factors