For example, women receive cancer diagnoses 2.5 years later than men, according to new findings published in the Nature Communications. With metabolic diseases like diabetes, women were diagnosed about 4.5 years later than men.
“When we look across all diseases, we see a tendency that women on average are diagnosed later than men. We have looked not just at diseases, but also at the course of the patient care. Our study zooms in on the areas where the differences are most pronounced — both for the individual diseases and for the course of the patient care. The message is that the national strategies that are established need to take a difference into account. We can no longer use the ‘one size fits all’ model. We are already heading in that direction with respect to personalized medicine,” study author Søren Brunak, a researcher at the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Protein Research, said in a news release.
For 770 diseases, women had about a four-year gap in diagnosis compared to men.
The largest disparity in diagnosis was for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Females usually received their diagnosis at age 20 compared to 14 for males.
The study was designed to highlight the need for doctors to move away from standardized approaches to treating both genders. Instead, they are urged to embrace a form of personalized medicine that addresses both an individual disease and a course of treatment.
Women did, however, receive early osteoporosis diagnosis before an injury had occurred, while men were usually diagnosed after they visited the emergency room with an injury.
“It has been surprising to see that there is such a big difference between the diseases that affect men and women and between their patient care courses in a society where otherwise, we have equal and uniform access to the healthcare system. Now we are trying to map out what really lies behind the differences we see. Can they, e.g., be attributed to genetics or environment and culture?” David Westergaard, a researcher at Novo Nordisk and study first author, said in a news release.
To further explore this gender difference, scientists are conducting research in Finland to see whether genetics, environment and diagnostics account for the different outcomes.