Monographic Section

The gender perspective in cancer research and therapy: novel insights and on-going hypotheses


Cancer represents a leading cause of death whose incidence is steadily increasing worldwide due to the population aging. The Global Health Observatory of the World Health Organization reported that approximately 13% of all deaths are caused by cancer. In the 2012 the estimated total number of cancer deaths was 1.75 million, 56% in men and 44% in women. Gender is recognized to play a role in cancer incidence, progression and response to therapy. Besides anatomical and hormonal disparities, genetic differences should be considered when assessing the effects of gender on cancer. Accumulating evidence also support the existence of sex-driven differences in immune responses. Until today clinical trials and research in animal models have been gender unbalanced. In consideration of the differences between sexes observed in cancer, sex should represent an important stratification factor to be included in all randomized clinical trials for a better understanding of biological differences between men and women, which may yield improved targeted therapies.


gender; cancer; immune therapy; sex; epidemiology; toxicity

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