Researchers may have discovered why more men get kidney cancer than women.
A study by researchers at the University of Rochester in New York published in Nature Communications discovered that a group of male sex hormones, called androgens, were linked to kidney cancer. Testosterone is an androgen, and is involved with the development of male sexual characteristics during puberty and with reproduction.
Men have much higher levels of androgens in their bodies than women, and this could be the reason why they are more susceptible to certain types of kidney cancer. The study found that men were five times as likely to suffer from kidney cancer that spread to the lungs, but there was little difference between the genders with kidney cancer that spread to the lymph nodes. The researchers suggest this is because the cancer cells in the lymph nodes had fewer androgen receptors.
Professor Chawnshang Chang, from the University of Rochester, said “We were able to begin to sort out androgen receptors’s function in this one disease, showing that androgen receptor-positive kidney tumours are more likely to spread to the lungs and androgen receptor-negative tumours are more likely to spread to the lymph nodes.”
The researchers believe that studying androgens could lead to a treatment for kidney cancer.