Lifestyle & Belief

Marriage linked to better cancer survival rates in new study


A new study has linked marriage with better chances for survival in cancer patients.


Pascal Le Segretain

Married people have a better chance of surviving cancer, according to a new study.

The study used the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program, which has data for over 700,000 people diagnosed with cancer.

When other factors were controlled for, unmarried people were found to have a 17 percent higher chance of metastatic cancer than married people.

They were also 53 percent less likely to receive the appropriate therapy.

Scientists suspect that social support combined with help going to appointments and taking medications is key.

"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 study author Ayal Aizer, of the Harvard Radiation Oncology Program.

"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."

The doctors were quick to point out that although the study does not promote marriage, it should be a wake-up call to those whose loved ones have the disease.

"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," said co-author Paul Nguyen.

The findings will be published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.