Young men have a higher risk of death from central nervous system (CNS) cancer, largely independent of the treatment they receive, according to research published in Cancer.

Past research has suggested that young men have a higher incidence of CNS cancer and an increased risk of death from these cancers, compared with young women. However, it hasn’t been clear if sex-based disparities in outcomes are tied to other confounding variables, such as treatment received.

For this study, researchers evaluated National Cancer Database data to determine sex-based differences in outcomes among young adults, ages 20 to 39 years, diagnosed with CNS cancer.

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Data from 47,560 patients were included, 47% of whom were men. The incidence of meningiomas was low in men (28%), but there was a higher incidence of germ cell tumors (66%), glioblastoma (61%), and diffuse astrocytomas (57%) in men.

The men had a significantly higher risk of death after a brain tumor diagnosis of any kind (hazard ratio, 1.47; 95% CI, 1.41-1.53). They also had a significantly higher risk of death from specific cancers, including diffuse astrocytoma, anaplastic astrocytoma, glioblastoma, oligodendroglioma, oligoastrocytic tumors, other malignant glioma, neuronal and mixed neuronal-glial tumors, or meningioma.

The overall association between sex and death from any brain tumor was mediated by treatment received (indirect effect hazard ratio, 1.17; 95% CI, 1.15-1.18). However, significant indirect effects were not observed for any specific cancer subtype.

The researchers estimated that if male survival with brain tumors were similar to female survival, 20% of all fatalities, and 34% of all fatalities in men, would have been avoided in this cohort.

Disclosures: One study author declared affiliations with OX2 Therapeutics. Please see the original reference for a full list of disclosures. 


Moore KJ, Moertel CL, Williams LA. Young adult males have worse survival than females that is largely independent of treatment received for many types of central nervous system tumors: A National Cancer Database analysis. Cancer. Published online February 8, 2022. doi:10.1002/cncr.34120