The male and female body is different in many significant ways such as basic cellular biochemistry, sex chromosome genes (XX belonging to females and XY to males), the hormonal regimes they are exposed to, the organ and systems. Little wonder why some diseases are particularly peculiar to a gender – this gives a feeling of relief to know that while you are susceptible to certain diseases because of your gender, you equally enjoy the upside of being zero percent prone to others for the just same reason. Here are some common gender-specific diseases:
- Breast cancer – at the occurrence of this disease, cancer cells develop from breast tissues and begin to grow. Breast cancer is usually diagnosed through a tissue biopsy and mainly treated by surgery, radiation therapy, hormonal therapy, and chemotherapy.
Statistics of Prevalence and death rate: According to studies, 99% of breast cancer happens in women. As of 2018, 2.1 million women were reported to have breast cancer and approximately 627,000 deaths had occurred from this disease.
Signs of breast cancer:
- Lump in breast
- Change in the shape of the breast
- Inverting nipple
- A patch of red scaly skin
- Discharge from nipple
- Dimpling of the skin
Since breast cancer is widely feared and whimsical in nature, its risk factors have been highlighted in a bid to control it. The risk factor for developing breast cancer can be classified into primary (fixed) and secondary (modifiable). The primary risk factors include old age, genetics and merely being female. Genetics is known to be the cause of breast cancer by a small fraction of 5-10% and its tendency includes levels of hormones and density of the tissue.
Women with higher levels of estrogen and progesterone hormones are more susceptible to developing tumors. Also, women with dense breast tissues are more susceptible to growing tumors and are less likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer since the dense tissue will likely hide the tumors from being seen on a mammogram. Below are the categories of women with secondary risk factors that are modifiable.
- Women living a sedentary lifestyle
- Obese women
- Alcohol drinkers
- Women having kids late or none at all
- Women with prior history of breast cancer
- Women who experience initial menstruation at an early age
- Women using hormone replacement therapy at menopausal age
- Certain dietary patterns (high-fat diet and iodine deficiency)
- Women who undergo ionizing radiation
- Prostate cancer – at the occurrence of this disease, cancer cells overgrow and spread in the prostate and can also spread to other parts of the body such as the bones and lymph nodes.
This disease usually occurs from the onset of 50 years and 99% in males. So among the risk factors of prostate cancer are gender, age, family history, and race. This disease is more popular among African American males than in white American males.
Symptoms: symptoms can go from nothing at all to experiencing difficulties in urinating, pain in the pelvis or back, and blood in the urine. At a later stage, symptoms of fatigue and low red blood cell levels may occur.
Statistics of prevalence: in 2016, about 3,110,403 men were found to be living with prostate cancer in the United States according to recent studies. The estimated number of new cases in 2019 is 174, 650 while estimated deaths from this disease are approximately 31,620.
This disease is usually diagnosed by biopsy which is followed by medical imaging in order to find out what other parts of the body cancer may have spread to.
Treatment: Treatment for this disease includes surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and hormone therapy. It can also be managed with active surveillance.
- Ovarian cancer – just like uterine cancer which is localized in the uterus, this type of cancer occurs in the ovaries and therefore only affects women. At its occurrence, abnormal cells with the tendencies to spread fast to other parts of the body are found in the ovaries.
- Back pain
- Irregular menstruation
- Bleeding during and after sex
- Pelvic pain
- Frequent urination
- Abdominal swelling
- Frequent urination
- Loss of appetite
Risk factors for ovarian cancer include:
- Never having children
- Fertility medication
- Hormone therapy after the onset of menopause
Statistic of prevalence: studies show that the number of cases reached 1.2 million in 2015 and the death rate was approximately 161,100
Treatments for this disease include chemotherapy, surgery radiation therapy,
When detected at an early stage, the disease is often curable. Those highly at risk of developing this disease may have their ovaries removed in order to prevent its occurrence.
- Hemophilia A and B – this x-linked recessive disorder is majorly an inherited genetic disorder that attacks the body and destroys its ability to make blood clots in order to stop bleeding. It is inherited from parents through an x-chromosome bearing a nonfunctional gene. When this happens a sufferer may bleed excessively and for a longer time frame in the case of an injury and stands the risk of internal bleeding in the brain and inside joints. Brain bleeding can cause seizures, long term headaches, and a low level of consciousness. Bleeding inside a joint can lead to irreversible damage to the body. People suffering from hemophilia are also at risk of heart and renal disease.
This disease can begin as early as birth. It is diagnosed through a simple test of the blood’s ability to clot and can be prevented by carrying out a pre-implantation screening. Although this is a rare disease, it has a higher likelihood to be diagnosed in more men than women.
Its only symptom is prolonged bleeding and treatment involves the replacement of missing blood-clotting factors in the body.
Statistic of prevalence – according to studies, 1 in 5000 males are born with this disease and every year 400 babies are born with it. The number of people currently living with this disease is currently unknown however in 1994 about 20,000 people have been reported to have hemophilia in the United States.
- Sjogren syndrome – this is a type of autoimmune disease that occurs as inflammation and damages the glands of the body, preventing it from producing moisture and as a result, dryness occurs in many parts of the body. This dryness primarily affects the mouth, eyes (keratoconjunctivitis Sicca), skin, and vagina. It has been found in more women than in men by a ratio of 10:1.
Other symptoms include:
- numb arms and legs
- joint and muscle pains
- chronic cough
- thyroid issues
Sufferers are at a 5% risk of getting lymphoma. This disease is caused by a viral or bacterial exposure and genetics. Diagnosis for Sjogren syndrome is carried out through blood tests and tissue biopsy.
Statistics of prevalence: between 0.2% to 1.2% of the world’s population are affected by this disease and sufferers are predominantly female by a ratio of 10:1.
Treatment: medications for inflammation, surgery, and artificial tears.
- Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA or triple-A) – this disease is six times more common in men than in women and can begin from the onset of 50 years and above. It is an abnormal increase in the size of the abdominal aorta by 50%. Approximately 85% of this enlargement occurs below the kidney while 15% occurs at the same level or above it.
Symptoms: Apart from an occasional abdomen, back or leg pain, chest pain, this disease usually shows no noticeable symptoms except when there is a rupture. When a rupture occurs, its symptoms may go from abdominal or back pains to low blood pressure, loss of consciousness and sometimes death. This disease can be prevented by handling its risk factors which include high blood pressure, smoking, heart or blood vessel diseases, and Marfan syndrome. This disease is diagnosed through medical imaging and treated through surgery.
Statistic of prevalence: studies in 2014 showed that 9,863 died of this disease in the US and very much lower than the number of deaths recorded in 2009 which was approximately 17,215. About two-thirds of sufferers are male.
- Lupus – this is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease that affects different parts of the body such as the heart, kidney, lungs, skin, joints, and blood cells. Systemic lupus is the type that affects the organs of the body such as the heart, lungs, kidney, or brain while cutaneous lupus only affects the skin. The cause of this disease is not really known however it is usually hereditary and is suspected to be triggered by environmental factors and infections.
Prevalence – according to research by the Lupus Foundation of America, 1.5 million Americans and about 85 million people worldwide have one form of lupus or the other. 90% of its cases are found in women and mostly those women of childbearing age. The study also states that there are 16,000 new cases every year. Unfortunately, lupus is a life-changing disease that has no cure.
Symptoms: low-grade fever and tiredness.
Treatment: medications for this disease include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, immunosuppressants intravenous immunoglobulin.
- Scleroderma – This disease is more likely to occur in women. When a person has this disease, there is excessive production of collagen in the skin. This overproduction of collagen becomes thick connective tissues which disturb the normal functioning of the affected organs in the body. This disease is not contagious, infectious, malignant, or cancerous.
Signs or symptoms: the appearance of skin lesions.
Statistics of prevalence: studies have shown that approximately 300,000 Americans have this disease, about one-third of this population have the systemic type of scleroderma and the majority of these cases were found in women. Since scleroderma has similar symptoms to some other autoimmune disease, many often go misdiagnosed or even undiagnosed.
Risk factors for this disease include family history and genetic factors as well as exposure to silica. It is diagnosed by a blood test and skin biopsy.
Treatment: Medications for this disease include corticosteroids, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and methotrexate.
Is one gender more vulnerable?
There are other diseases known to affect both sexes but are however more in one gender than the other. For instance, more women suffer from osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s disease than men, even though both sexes are susceptible to these diseases.
On the other hand color blindness, autism, schizophrenia, and several cancers like the stomach, esophageal, liver, and oral cancer autism and schizophrenia, though can be found in both sexes are usually more in men. In the past decade, medical research has been carried out using the male body as a sample in producing general medications for diseases and illnesses.
However, since some diseases which occur at close rates in both men and women could manifest differently, recent medical research has focused on applying clinical studies into consideration to both the male and female body for the fact that symptoms and response to medical treatments in men and women are often different.