The risk of adverse events during systemic cancer therapy depended on gender

The likelihood of severe adverse events during systemic therapy for cancer was higher among women. The highest risk of severe toxicity was associated with immunotherapy.

The risk of adverse events associated with chemotherapy, targeted therapy and immunotherapy varies by gender, a study by researchers from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, the University of Chicago Stritch School of Medicine and the National Cancer Institute found. The results were published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

The analysis showed that among women the risk of severe adverse events after systemic therapy was 34% higher compared with men (risk ratio (RR) was 1.34). Women were 49% more likely to develop severe adverse events during immunotherapy (RR = 1.49).

In addition, women were more likely to experience five or more severe adverse events. The risk of severe symptomatic adverse events increased with all types of systemic therapy (RR = 1.66). Severe hematological toxicity was more common during chemotherapy and immunotherapy.

The researchers analyzed the SWOG Cancer Research Network database, including results from phase II and III trials over the past 30 years. The researchers assessed data from 202 studies involving a total of 23,296 patients, of whom 37.9% were women. A third of patients were over 65 years of age.

Most often, patients received systemic therapy for malignant tumors of the gastrointestinal tract (26.1%), lungs (20.5%) and leukemia (12.1%). 17,417 people received chemotherapy. 2,319 patients received immunotherapy, 3,560 received targeted therapy. 64.6% of participants (15,051 people) experienced one or more severe (grade 3 or higher) adverse event. In total, scientists identified 274,699 adverse events.

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