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Marriage 'boosts cancer survival'

27 September 2013 07:54

People who are married when diagnosed with cancer live longer than those who are not, a study suggests

People who are married when diagnosed with cancer live longer than those who are not, a study suggests

Married people are more likely than single people to survive cancer, a new study suggests.

Researchers in the US found that married patients tended to have cancer diagnosed at an earlier stage and were more likely to receive appropriate treatment.

Scientists at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute worked with colleagues at Brigham and Women's Hospital to review data from 734,889 people diagnosed with cancer between 2004 and 2008.

They focused on the 10 leading causes of cancer deaths in the US, which include lung, colorectal, breast, pancreatic and prostate cancer.

According to the findings, published online in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, unmarried cancer patients were 17% more likely to have cancer that had spread, and 53% less likely to receive the appropriate therapy.

But researchers added that support from any loved one could have a positive impact on a patient's chances of survival.

Senior author Dr Paul Nguyen said: "We don't just see our study as an affirmation of marriage, but rather it should send a message to anyone who has a friend or a loved one with cancer.

"By being there for that person and helping them navigate their appointments and make it through all their treatments, you can make a real difference to that person's outcome."

Dr Ayal Aizer, chief resident of the Harvard Radiation Oncology Programme and one of the report's authors, said marriage had a "significant health impact" for patients with all types of cancer.

He added: "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."

For those patients who may be planning a holiday with their husband or wife after diagnosis, cancer travel insurance is available to provide extra peace of mind.