Marriage Improves Lung Cancer

Lung cancer outlook better for married patients

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Scientists may have trouble proving it in a lab, but marital support helps cancer patients live longer. How can this be translated to help unmarried patients?

A recent study compared married and unmarried non-small cell lung cancer patients. Men especially benefited from marriage during radiation and chemotherapy.

"Seek cancer treatment support."

Steven J. Feigenberg, MD, and Elizabeth Nichols, MD, both radiation oncologists at the University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center, participated in the investigation.

Dr. Nichols said, “Marital status appears to be an important independent predictor of survival in patients with locally advanced non-small cell lung cancer.”

“The reason for this is unclear, but our findings suggest the importance of social support in managing and treating our lung cancer patients.”

For the small study, researchers looked at 168 patients treated with chemotherapy and radiation for Stage III non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) from 2000-2010.

Results of the study found that married women lived the longest with 46 percent living 3 years or longer. Single men had the shortest life expectancy with only 3 percent living 3 or more years.

A total of 25 percent of both single women and married men were alive after 3 years.

Overall, 33 percent of married patients compared to 10 percent of single patients were alive after 3 years.

Dr. Feigenber said, “We need to better understand why marriage is a factor in our patients’ survival. “

Dr. Nichols said, “Patients may need help with day-to-day activities, getting to treatment and making sure they receive proper follow-up care.”

“We believe that better supportive care and support mechanisms for cancer patients can have a greater impact on increasing survival than many new cancer therapy techniques.”

“Not only do we need to continue to focus on finding new drugs and cancer therapies, but also on ways to better support our cancer patients.”

The results of this study were presented at the 2012 Chicago Multidisciplinary Symposium in Thoracic Oncology from September 6-8th. All research is considered preliminary before it is published in a peer-reviewed journal.

No funding information was given and no conflicts of interest were reported.

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Review Date: 
September 17, 2012
Last Updated:
September 19, 2012