Gender Differences in Recommended Treatment Decisions Among Breast Cancer Patients: A Study Using the National Cancer Database

Published:November 08, 2021DOI:



      Previous studies have explored surgery refusal among female breast cancer patients. However, little attention has been given to other therapies in both females and males. The goal of this study was to determine the potential role of gender on recommended hormone therapy, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery refusal and to describe other determinants of refusal.

      Materials and Methods

      A retrospective study of the National Cancer Database (NCDB) between 2004 and 2016 was conducted. The outcome was whether patients accepted or refused the recommended treatment. We examined four different outcome variables (hormone therapy, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery) relation to gender and other factors.


      A total of 906,342 breast cancer patients met the eligibility criteria for hormone therapy, 1,228,132 for surgery, 596,229 for chemotherapy, and 858,050 for radiation therapy. The odds of refusing hormone therapy and surgery in males were 17% (AOR=0.83; 95% CI: 0.75-0.92) and 33% (AOR=0.67; 95% CI: 0.50-0.90) lower compared to female patients, respectively. The odds of refusing radiation therapy were 14% higher in males compared to females (AOR=1.14; 95% CI:1.03-1.30). Older age and lack of insurance were significantly associated with each treatment refusal.


      Female patients tend to refuse hormone therapy and surgery compared to males. A marginally statistically significant gender differences was found for radiotherapy refusal. The providers and other stakeholders can utilize the current findings to identify the risk groups and barriers associated with refusal for each treatment and to develop interventions.


      We used largest data to determine the potential role of gender and other factors on breast cancer treatment refusal in the US. Females tend to refuse hormone therapy and surgery compared to males. Demographic and clinical factors association with treatment varied by treatment type. The results can be used to increase the treatment acceptance rate.
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