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Cancer Patients With Partners Have Increased Chances Of Living Longer

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In many situations, love and affection shows strong power over health problems. In one study, for instance, researchers have found that people suffering from cancer who have partners are more likely to live longer than those who are single.

In the study by researchers at the Queensland University of Technology and Cancer Council Queensland have found that single cancer patients may face death sooner than those who have partners. They are more likely to die within 10 years of cancer diagnosis.

The researchers looked at 176,050 cases of 10 leading cancer diagnoses in Queensland between 1996 and 2012. The study aims to shed light on the survival benefits of having a partner for individual cancer types since previous knowledge focused more on all cancers in general.

In the study, to be published in the International Journal of Cancer Epidemiology, Detection and Prevention in April, the researchers used flexible parametric competing-risks models to predict and estimate cause-specific factors of death among cancer patients.

Likelihood Of Death Among Single Cancer Patients

The researchers have found that the possibility of death was 26 percent higher for single men than those with partners across all cancers. In single women, the likelihood of death was 20 percent higher compared to those who have partners.

Though the exact reasons are still unclear, the researchers said that it is important to better understand the benefits of having a partner following a cancer diagnosis. This will help improve cancer management for all patients suffering from cancer.

Notably, males without partners had a 46 percent increased risk of cancer-specific death, 18 percent higher risk of death from other cancers and 44 percent increased risk of death from non-cancer death. Women experienced a similar pattern with higher mortality risk persisted after adjustment for stage.

"Patients without a partner were not only at increased risk of death from their diagnosed cancer, but also from other causes of death," said Professor Jeff Dunn, Cancer Council Queensland chief executive.

"This pattern was consistent across the 10 leading cancers examined in Queensland, and independent of cancer stage," he added.

Possible Link

There are likely several reasons why patients in relationships lived longer than those who are single. Professor Dunn said that having a partner is linked to the practice of a healthier lifestyle, better financial stability and increased social support during treatment procedures.

"Support from a partner can also influence treatment choices and increase social support to help manage the psychosocial effects of cancer," Prof. Dunn said.

The study shows how health practitioners should modify treatment options and approach to single patients suffering from cancer. These patients should receive adequate support from family and friends. This may improve cancer survival rates and prognosis.

Importance Of Social Support Among Cancer Patients

The American Cancer Society said that family members or friends helping patients diagnosed with cancer should give emotional and spiritual support.

Though a cancer diagnoses in a member of the family changes the relationship as a whole, the family should cope through communicating openly and sharing feelings with one another.

Cancer treatment also includes care of the patient and the family, not just the disease. The help of a mental health professional is also needed to help both the patient and family members to adjust to the changes that might happen during and after cancer treatment.

This can help cancer patients accept the diagnosis, cope with cancer treatment and think positively toward health outcomes.

Photo: Rafael Castillo | Flickr

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