Age and sex differences in the incidence of esophageal adenocarcinoma: Results from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Registry (1973-2008)
Risk factors driving sex disparity in esophageal cancer are unclear. Recent molecular evidence suggests hormonal factors. We conducted a national descriptive epidemiological study to assess the hypothesis that estrogen exposure could explain the male predominance in observed esophageal adenocarcinoma incidence. We analyzed the esophageal cancer incidence trends by histology and sex from 1973 to 2008 in nine population-based cancer registries of the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) 9 Registry Database. We used age as a proxy for estrogen exposure in females. The collective age groups annual percentage change in esophageal adenocarcinoma for females is positive (0.03%; 95% confidence interval: 0.02, 0.03%) during the study period. Interestingly, the esophageal adenocarcinoma annual percentage change in incidence rates for females during the same time period is significantly negative from ages 50-54 to ages 60-64. Even though the incidence of esophageal adenocarcinoma rises in both males and females, the male-to-female ratio across age peaks in the 50-54 years then decreases. Furthermore, the esophageal adenocarcinoma age-adjusted incidence rate in postmenopausal females age 80 and above increases with age unlike their male counterparts. Taken together, these data support the hypothesis that the endocrine milieu in pre- and perimenopausal females serves as a protective factor against esophageal adenocarcinoma, and with loss of estrogen or because of the increasing time period away from estrogen exposure, the rate of esophageal adenocarcinoma incidence increases in the older postmenopausal female. Because females comprise the largest portion of the elderly population with esophageal adenocarcinoma, these findings are significant.