Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the fourth leading cause of cancer-related death worldwide, affecting men to women at a ratio of about 4:1. Risk factors, characteristics, and outcomes for HCC in women in the United States remain poorly understood; therefore, we aim to explore gender differences further.
Patients diagnosed with HCC between January 2000 and June 2014 at 5 large centers were identified. Clinical information, tumor characteristics, and survival data were extracted manually. The presence of underlying cirrhosis was assessed based on published criteria.
Of 5,327 patients with HCC in our cohort, 1,203 (22.6%) were women. There were important differences in the underlying etiology of liver disease between the 2 genders (P < 0.0001): women had a significantly higher frequency of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (23% vs 12%) and lower frequency of alcoholic liver disease (5% vs 15%). The proportion of noncirrhotic HCC was significantly higher among women (17% vs 10%, P < 0.0001). Women had less-advanced HCC at presentation by tumor, node, metastasis staging (P < 0.0001) and a higher proportion within Milan criteria (39% vs 35%, P = 0.002). Women had a greater overall survival (2.5 ± 2.9 years vs 2.2 ± 2.7 years, P = 0.0031).
The frequency of underlying nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and noncirrhotic HCC were significantly higher in women than men in this large cohort. Women presented with less-advanced HCC and had a greater overall survival. Further investigation is warranted to explore potential mechanisms and implications for these gender differences, especially with noncirrhotic HCC (see Visual Abstract, Supplementary Digital Content 1, http://links.lww.com/AJG/B535).