(HealthDay News) — For patients with advanced cancers, treatment with immune checkpoint inhibitors is associated with improved overall survival, with the magnitude of the benefit sex-dependent, according to research published online in The Lancet Oncology.

Fabio Conforti, MD, from the European Institute of Oncology in Milan, and colleagues conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to examine the heterogeneity of immune checkpoint inhibitor efficacy between men and women. Data were included from 20 randomized controlled trials of immune checkpoint inhibitors that reported overall survival by patient sex.

Data from 11,351 patients (67% men and 33% women) with advanced or metastatic cancers were included in the analysis. Melanoma and non-small-cell lung cancer were the most common types of cancer (32 and 31%, respectively). The researchers found that, compared with men treated in control groups, the pooled overall survival hazard ratio was 0.72 for male patients treated with immune checkpoint inhibitors. For women, the pooled overall survival hazard ratio was 0.86 for treatment with immune checkpoint inhibitors versus control groups. There was a significant difference in efficacy for men and women treated with immune checkpoint inhibitors (P=0.0019).

“Future research should guarantee greater inclusion of women in trials and focus on improving the effectiveness of immunotherapies in women, perhaps exploring different immunotherapeutic approaches in men and women,” the authors write.

Related Articles


Conforti F, Pala L, Bagnardi V, et al. Cancer immunotherapy efficacy and patients’ sex: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet Oncol. DOI:10.1016/S1470-2045(18)30261-4

Abdel-Rahman O. Does a patient’s sex predict the efficacy of cancer immunotherapy? Lancet Oncol. DOI: 10.1016/S1470-2045(18)30270-5