Women experience more cancer treatment side effects than men

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Women appear to have more toxicity from chemotherapy than men, but almost no research has aimed to understand whether that pattern held for novel treatments like immunotherapy or targeted therapies. 


(Victoria Forster/ Forbes) — Previous research has shown that women typically experience more side effects from chemotherapy than men and now a new study shows that this is also the case with targeted therapies and immunotherapy.

The work published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology looked at data from 23,296 patients on 202 clinical trials for a variety of cancer types and therapies. The researchers found that overall, women were at a 34% higher risk of severe toxicity than men.

Toxicities caused by cancer therapies are a significant issue in cancer treatment regimens. They range from pain, nausea and high blood pressure to life-threatening effects on organs and the bone marrow. Side-effects can be so severe that they lead to discontinuation of the treatment and sometimes even death.

For immunotherapies – drugs which influence the immune system to fight the cancer – women had a 49% greater risk than men of experiencing severe toxic side effects from their treatment. (…)

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