A Link Between Marriage and Cancer Survival

New research shows that being married is associated with higher survival rates in cancer patients.

Surviving cancer may be impacted by a patient’s marital status, the results of a recent study suggest.

In a study published by Cancer, researchers gathered information from almost 800,000 adults in California who were diagnosed in 2000 to 2009.

Researchers found that death rates among unmarried patients were much higher.

For unmarried males, there was a 27% higher death rate than married males. For unmarried females, there was a 19% higher death rate than married females.

According to the study, greater economic resources had a minimal impact on these patterns.

In regards to ethnicity, cancer patients who are Caucasian benefitted the most from being married. Hispanic and Asian/Pacific Islander patients born in the United States were seen to have a better survival rate than those who were born elsewhere.

"While other studies have found similar protective effects associated with being married, ours is the first in a large population-based setting to assess the extent to which economic resources explain these protective effects," researcher Scarlett Lin Gomez, PhD, said in a press release. "Our study provides evidence for social support as a key driver."

The results of this study show that physicians should make sure unmarried cancer patients have both physical and emotional support, whether it is from a support group, a friend, or an outside care facility.

Further research is needed to understand these results better in order to increase the survival rate of unmarried cancer patients, the study concluded.