Sex-differences in symptoms and functioning in >5000 cancer survivors: Results from the PROFILES registry
SourceEuropean Journal of Cancer, 156, (2021), pp. 24-34
Article / Letter to editor
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Primary and Community Care
European Journal of Cancer
SubjectRadboudumc 18: Healthcare improvement science RIHS: Radboud Institute for Health Sciences
BACKGROUND: Previous reports highlight the greater number of side effects that women experience during cancer treatment, but little is known about sex differences in symptoms and functioning in long-term survivors. METHODS: We investigated sex differences in the prevalence of physical (EORTC QLQ-C30) and emotional symptoms (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale) and loss of functioning (EORTC QLQ-C30) in 5339 cancer survivors (55% males). General linear models were computed to assess the differences in symptoms and functioning between female and male cancer survivors and between survivors and an age-matched reference population. RESULTS: The direct comparison between female and male cancer survivors identified more symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting (M = 5.0 versus. 3.2), insomnia (M = 26.1 versus. 15.9), anxiety (M = 5.2 versus. 4.2), and lower physical (M = 77.5 versus. 82.5) and emotional functioning (M = 83.4 versus. 86.3), in female survivors. However, comparison with an age-matched reference population demonstrated that several symptoms, such as fatigue, dyspnea, anxiety and depression, appeared to be more frequent in male patients. The investigation of functioning domains - compared with a reference population - highlighted further sex-specific differences. Female survivors experienced a moderate net loss in physical and cognitive functioning (-6.1 [95% CI = -8.1; -4,1] and -5.2 respectively [95% CI = -7; -3.5]), whereas male survivors displayed a significant net loss in role and social functioning compared to the reference population (-9.9 [95% CI = -11.2; -8.6] and -7.7 [95% CI = -9.6; -7.6] respectively). CONCLUSION: To adequately capture sex differences in symptoms and functioning in long-term cancer survivors, a comparison with a reference population should always be considered. In our study population, this adjustment highlighted a significant and unexpected long-term impact on male patients. Role and social functioning were especially impacted in male patients, emphasizing the need to further investigate these gendered domains.
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