SAN DIEGO – Hepatocellular carcinoma is the third leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States and its incidence is increasing worldwide. While it affects men much more frequently than women, approximately 4 to 1, the differences in risk factors between men and women have never been studied.
At the annual Digestive Disease Week, Meaghan Phipps, MD, of New York–Presbyterian Hospital, described in a video interview how she and her colleagues set up a retrospective study of these differences in 5,327 patients at five large academic centers around the country. She and her colleagues found that women tended to present later, and with less severe disease, which was more likely to be treated with resection than transplantation. Women had better overall survival. Women were significantly more likely to present without cirrhosis and with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease than were men. Dr. Phipps noted that they did not characterize the women in their study by menopausal status, and suggested that this would be an important thing to look at in a future prospective study because it has long been thought that estrogen confers some protection against hepatocellular carcinoma.