Health Tips: Do brain tumors affect men and women differently!


Do brain tumors affect men and women differently: Brain tumors are becoming a matter of concern for people all over the world, including India, as they put lives at risk. Both men and women are affected by it, but have you ever thought about the impact of this disease on people of both genders? Dr. Kamal Verma, Director (Neurosurgery), Fortis Escorts Hospital, Faridabad, Haryana, said that brain tumors are a diverse group of neoplasms, they affect men and women differently. This divergence can be attributed to several biological, genetic, hormonal, and lifestyle factors that affect the incidence, progression, and outcome of these tumors.


What reason for a gender difference in brain tumors?

1. Men are more sensitive

Data suggest that men are generally more susceptible to brain tumors than women. For example, glioblastoma, one of the most aggressive and common brain tumors, occurs more frequently in men. In contrast, meningiomas, benign tumors that typically arise from the meninges, are more common in women. In many cases, these gender disparities suggest a biological basis that needs further exploration.

2. Biological and genetic factors

Research has shown that genetic differences between men and women may play an important role in the development of brain tumors. Men are more likely to have mutations in certain tumor suppressor genes and oncogenes that are important in brain tumor pathogenesis. In addition, sex chromosomes (XX in women and XY in men) contribute to genetic variability in tumor biology. Studies suggest that the presence of two X chromosomes in women may provide a protective effect against certain mutations that can cause tumorigenesis.

3. Hormonal factors 

Hormonal differences between women and men have a significant influence on the characteristics and behavior of brain tumors. Estrogen and progesterone receptors, which are more prevalent in women, are involved in the development of meningiomas. These hormones may stimulate tumor growth, which explains the higher incidence of meningiomas in women, especially during their reproductive years. In contrast, the role of testosterone in the progression of glioblastoma in men is an area of ​​active research, with studies suggesting that androgens may contribute to tumor aggressiveness.

4. Clinical presentation and symptoms

The clinical presentation of brain tumors can also differ between men and women. Women may experience different symptoms or have a different onset of symptoms than men, influenced by the type and location of the tumor. For example, hormonal fluctuations associated with the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, or menopause may alter the presentation and progression of brain tumors in women, making diagnosis and treatment more challenging.

5. Prognosis and survival rate

Gender differences extend to the prognosis and survival rates of brain tumor patients. In general, women with brain tumors have a slightly better prognosis and longer survival than men. This disparity is seen in glioblastoma cases, where women often respond better to treatment and have a longer average survival time. The exact reasons for this difference are being investigated, but are believed to be related to genetic, hormonal, and immune system differences.

6. Treatment response

Response to treatments, including surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, may vary between men and women. Women may respond better to certain treatments due to their hormonal milieu and genetic makeup. For instance, the efficacy of temozolomide, a standard chemotherapeutic agent for glioblastoma, has shown variability by gender, with some studies indicating better outcomes in women.