Author: Sean Parnell
People diagnosed with cancer are more likely to die if they do not have a partner, according to a new Australian study.
Researchers from Cancer Council Queensland and Queensland University of Technology examined 176,050 cases of the 10 most common cancers in Queensland, diagnosed between 1996 and 2012. They found the chance of death was 26 per cent higher for men who did not have a partner compared to those who did, and 20 per cent higher for women who did not have a partner, across all cancers.
“The reasons for higher survival in partnered patients still remains unclear, but are likely to include economic, psychosocial, environmental, and structural factors,” CCQ professor Jeff Dunn said yesterday.
“Having a partner has been linked to a healthier lifestyle, greater financial resources and increased practical or social support while undergoing treatment.
“Support from a partner can also influence treatment choices and increase social support to help manage the psychosocial effects of cancer.”
The increased risk varied depending on the type of cancer. For men without a partner, it ranged from 2 per cent for lung cancer to 30 per cent for head and neck cancer, while for women without a partner it ranged from 2 per cent for kidney and lung cancer to 41 per cent for uterine cancer.
“Health professionals managing cancer patients should be aware of the increased mortality risk among unpartnered patients, and tailor follow-up treatment accordingly,” Professor Dunn said.
Of the 176,050 patients analysed for the study, 68 per cent had a partner, which included those who were married or in a de facto relationship. The researchers published their findings in the journal Cancer Epidemiology and suggested a better understanding of the relationship factor might help improve cancer management and outcomes.