(HealthDay News) — Women are at higher risk than men for severe cancer treatment-related adverse events (AEs), particularly for immunotherapy, according to a study published online Feb. 4 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Joseph M. Unger, Ph.D., from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, and colleagues examined sex differences in treatment-related AEs among patients receiving immunotherapy, targeted therapy, or chemotherapy in cancer clinical trials. The analysis included data from 23,296 patients participating in phase II and III clinical trials (202 trials) between 1980 and 2019.

The researchers found that 274,688 AEs were analyzed for patients in clinical trials (17,417 with chemotherapy; 2,319 with immunotherapy; 3,560 with targeted therapy). Nearly two-thirds of participants (64.6 percent) experienced one or more severe (grade ≥3) AEs. Compared with men, there was an increased risk for severe AEs observed among women (odds ratio, 1.34), including a 49 percent increased risk among those receiving immunotherapy. A higher risk for severe symptomatic AEs was seen among women receiving all treatments, but was highest for immunotherapy (odds ratio, 1.66). Severe hematologic AEs were more common among women receiving chemotherapy or immunotherapy.


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“Particularly large sex differences were observed for patients receiving immunotherapy, suggesting that studying AEs from these agents is a priority,” the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

Abstract/Full Text