Introduction: Colorectal carcinomas represent the third most common cause of cancer-related deaths in Germany. Although the incidence is significantly higher in men compared with women and gender is a well-established crucial factor for outcome in other diseases, detailed gender comparisons for colon cancer are lacking.
Methods: This retrospective population-based cohort study included all patients diagnosed with colon cancer in Germany between 2000 and 2016 who were included in the common dataset of colorectal cancer patients from the quality conference of the German Cancer Society. We compared clinical, histopathological, and therapeutic characteristics as well as overall and recurrence-free survival.
Results: A total of 185,967 patients were included in the study, of which 85,685 were female (46.1%) and 100,282 were male (53.9%). The proportion of women diagnosed with colon cancer decreased from 2000 to 2016 (f: 26.6 to 40.1%; m: 24.9 to 41.9%; p < 0.001), and the proportion of very old patients was especially high in women (f: 27.3%; m: 15.6%; p < 0.001). The localization in women was more right-sided (f: 45.0%, m: 36.7%; p < 0.001), and women had a higher tumor grading and a higher UICC stage (especially stage III nodal-positive) at diagnosis of primary colon cancer (UICC III: f: 22.7%, m: 21.0%; p < 0.001). We could detect a significantly better overall (hazard ratio: 0.853, lower 95%: 0.841, upper 95%: 0.864; p < 0.001) and recurrence-free survival (hazard ratio: 0.857, lower 95%: 0.845, upper 95%: 0.868; p < 0.001) in women compared with men, even though women received chemotherapy less frequently compared with men (f: 26.1%, m: 28.1%; p < 0.001).
Conclusion: We could detect several variables that differed significantly between men and women regarding clinical, histopathological, therapeutic, and outcome factors. We believe that it is crucial to consider gender as a key factor in the diagnosis and treatment of colon cancer. Sex-specific diagnostic tools could lead to an earlier diagnosis of colon cancer in women, and ways to increase the rate of chemotherapy in women should be evaluated. Furthermore, we recommend stratifying randomized trials by gender.