Marriage helps cancer patients survive

  • Blog Post by: Colleen Stoxen
  • September 23, 2013 - 6:00 PM

Scientists say they may have found the key to surviving cancer: marriage.

Married people with cancer were 20% less likely to die from their disease, compared to people who are separated, divorced, widowed or never married, according to study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Married people in the study fared better than singles no matter what type of cancer. In certain types of tumors — prostate, breast, colorectal, esophageal and head/neck cancers — the survival benefits of marriage were larger than those from chemotherapy.

"Improving social support for our patients may be equally important as providing effective therapy, and it is less costly to develop and implement," said senior author Paul Nguyen, a radiation oncologist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, in a statement.

The real secret to survival may be "social support," rather than a wedding ring, said first author Ayal Aizer, chief resident of the Harvard Radiation Oncology Program in Boston, in a statement.

Spouses provide many practical services, nursing their partners through therapy, driving them to the hospital, helping with medications and making sure that patients eat well.

This kind of help can allow patients to complete recommended therapy, rather than skip treatments or drop out early, Aizer said.

Read more from USA Today.

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