Study author Dr. Michael Davidson, Royal Marsden Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, London, said: "We have known for a long time in oncology that there are differences between males and females in the incidence and prognosis of many non gender-specific cancers. We are now also beginning to understand some of the complex cellular, molecular and metabolic differences between the two sexes which influence both cancer development and response to treatment. The clinical question we wanted to answer was whether sex influences the toxicity and efficacy of common chemotherapies administered in oesophageal and gastric cancer. It's the first time that gender-differentiated data has been collected on such a large scale for this tumour type."
The trials selected for this pooled analysis were all evaluating first line chemotherapy regimens for patients with advanced OG cancer. "The four trials we included were large international trials conducted in the UK and Australasia with comparable patient populations and treatments being used," Davidson said. "This allowed us to collate and compare the data." In total 1654 patients were included: 80% were male and 20% were female. A greater proportion of gastric as opposed to junctional or oesophageal cancers were seen in female patients. "These findings are consistent with the incidence and distribution of OG cancers in Western populations," Davidson observed.