Sex disparities in use of chemotherapy and survival in patients with advanced bladder cancer

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Women with advanced bladder cancer have inferior survival compared with men. However, women treated on clinical trials do not appear to have a survival disadvantage. Less frequent administration of systemic chemotherapy in women with advanced bladder cancer may contribute to their inferior survival.


The authors identified patients diagnosed with stage IV bladder cancer from 1998 through 2010 using the National Cancer Data Base, a national outcomes database that includes 70% of all newly diagnosed cancer cases in the United States. Sex differences in demographics, systemic chemotherapy administration, and overall survival (OS) were compared.


A total of 23,981 patients were identified (35% of whom were female). Compared with men, women were older, more likely to be black, and less likely to be insured (P<.01 for all). The Charlson-Deyo comorbidity score did not differ between men and women. Women were less likely to receive systemic chemotherapy than men (45% vs 52%; adjusted relative risk, 0.91 [95% confidence interval (95% CI), 0.88–0.94]). Women had a lower median OS compared with men (8.0 months [95% CI, 7.7–8.3 months] vs 9.8 months [95% CI, 9.5–10.0 months]; P<.001). OS remained lower for women on multivariable analysis, even after adjusting for the administration of systemic chemotherapy (hazard ratio for death, 1.11 [95% CI, 1.08–1.15]).


Women are less likely than men to receive systemic chemotherapy for advanced bladder cancer and this difference may partially account for the poorer OS observed in women. However, OS remains lower in women independent of chemotherapy use, and may be related to unmeasured comorbidities, functional status, or tumor biology. Cancer2016;122:2012–20. © 2016 American Cancer Society.

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