A new study finds that married people are more likely to survive cancer than singles. Married patients also tended to have cancers diagnosed at an earlier stage - when it is often more successfully treated - and to receive more appropriate treatment.
The study's findings will be published online by the Journal of Clinical Oncology
on Sept. 23.
"Our data suggests that marriage can have a significant health impact for patients with cancer, and this was consistent among every cancer that we reviewed," said Ayal Aizer, MD MHS, chief resident of the Harvard Radiation Oncology Program and the paper's first author. "We suspect that social support from spouses is what's driving the striking improvement in survival. Spouses often accompany patients on their visits and make sure they understand the recommendations and complete all their treatments."
Utilizing the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program, the researchers conducted a retrospective analysis of 734,889 people who were diagnosed with cancer between 2004 and 2008. They focused on the 10 leading causes of cancer deaths in the United States: lung, colorectal, breast, pancreatic, prostate, liver/bile duct, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, head and neck, ovarian, and esophageal cancer. They also adjusted the data to account for a number of demographic factors, including age, sex, race, residence type, education and median household income, that could have an effect on the health outcome.