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Differences in cancer survival by sex: a population-based study using cancer registry data

A Correction to this article was published on 11 October 2018

This article has been updated



Few large-scale studies have investigated sex differences in cancer survival and little is known about their temporal and age-related patterns.


We used cancer registry data for first primary cancers diagnosed between 1982 and 2015 in Victoria, Australia. Cases were followed until the end of 2015 through linkage to death registries. Differences in survival were assessed for 25 cancers using the Pohar-Perme estimator of net survival and the excess mortality rate ratio (EMRR) adjusting for age and year of diagnosis.


Five-year net survival for all cancers combined was lower for men (47.1%; 95% CI 46.9–47.4) than women (52.0%; 95% CI 51.7–52.3); EMRR 1.13 (95% CI 1.12–1.14; p < 0.001). A survival disadvantage for men was observed for 11 cancers: head and neck, esophagus, colorectum, pancreas, lung, bone, melanoma, mesothelioma, kidney, thyroid, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. In contrast, women had lower survival from cancers of the bladder, renal pelvis, and ureter. For the majority of cancers with survival differences, the EMRR decreased with increasing age at diagnosis; for colorectal, esophageal, and kidney cancer, the EMRR increased with time since diagnosis.


Identifying the underlying reasons behind sex differences in cancer survival is necessary to address inequalities, which may improve outcomes for men and women.

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Change history

  • 11 October 2018

    In the original publication of the article, the concluding paragraph of the Discussion section was inadvertently missed and is provided below.


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Nina Afshar is the recipient of an Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship.


This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

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Correspondence to Nina Afshar.

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The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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Ethical approval to conduct the analyses of these data was granted by the Cancer Council Victoria Human Research Ethics Committee. All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Afshar, N., English, D.R., Thursfield, V. et al. Differences in cancer survival by sex: a population-based study using cancer registry data. Cancer Causes Control 29, 1059–1069 (2018).

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  • Sex differences
  • Inequalities
  • Cancer registries
  • Survival analysis
  • Cancer survival
  • Excess mortality