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Marriage enables better lives for cancer patients

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If you want to survive cancer, get married.  That’s the result of a recent study published in The Journal of Clinical Oncology that found that single patients were 53 percent less likely to receive appropriate therapy than married patients. 

The study isn’t the first study to indicate that married people have better odds at everything from living longer to being more financially well off but rather than concentrating on the overall health of study participants it looked at how well the cancer patient was able to deal logistically with treatments and care options.  The result as you can imagine is that two brains are better than one especially when one of those brains is impacted by chemo brain.  The gap between married and unmarried is especially large when it looks at men only.

The study authors found that for prostate, breast, colorectal, esophageal, and head/neck cancers, the survival benefit associated with marriage was larger than the published survival benefit of chemotherapy. The study found that married individuals were 20 percent less likely to die of their disease than single patients.

Being single especially being single and male is an important risk factor for failing to comply with medical treatments.  The results strongly suggest that to improve cancer survival requires improving the social support systems of patients to mimic the care created by a spouse who can provide practical services such as nursing their partners through therapy, driving them to appointments, ensuring they stick with medications and even just beginning the process by pushing them into doctor visits earlier in the disease’s progress.  For instance, unmarried study participants were 17 percent more likely to have late-stage cancer at the time of diagnosis, compared with married patients.  The study suggest that doctors and patients should focus on creating support groups to help with the enormous burden of cancer treatments to ensure that patients get the care and support they need early on and throughout their treatment.

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