Supportive Spouse May Extend Cancer Survival

Single men had worst post-treatment longevity, study found

TUESDAY, Sept. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Married patients with locally advanced lung cancer survive longer after treatment than single patients, a small new study finds.

This improved survival is linked to having a supportive spouse, the University of Maryland researchers said.

The study included about 170 patients with stage 3 non-small cell lung cancer -- the most common type of lung cancer -- who were treated with chemotherapy and radiation between January 2000 and December 2010.

Three years after treatment, 33 percent of married patients and 10 percent of single patients were still alive. Married women had the highest survival rate (46 percent) and single men the lowest rate (3 percent).

Single women and married men had the same survival rate (25 percent). White married patients had a better survival rate than black married patients.

The study was presented at the 2012 Chicago Multidisciplinary Symposium in Thoracic Oncology, held from Sept. 6 to 8.

"Marital status appears to be an important independent predictor of survival in patients with locally advanced non-small cell lung cancer," lead author Dr. Elizabeth Nichols, a radiation oncology resident, said in a University of Maryland Medical Center news release.

"The reason for this is unclear, but our findings suggest the importance of social support in managing and treating our lung cancer patients," Nichols explained. "Patients may need help with day-to-day activities, getting to treatment and making sure they receive proper follow-up care."

"We believe that better supportive care and support mechanisms for cancer patients can have a greater impact on increasing survival than many new cancer therapy techniques," she concluded. "Not only do we need to continue to focus on finding new drugs and cancer therapies, but also on ways to better support our cancer patients."

Data and conclusions presented at meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about lung cancer.

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