How marriage, birthplace help cancer patients live longer

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New York, April 12 (IANS) Not just marriage, birthplace too affects the outcome in cancer patients, say researchers, adding that married couples with cancer survive more and longer than unmarried cancer-afflicted patients.

“Oncologists should be aware that an increase in cancer mortality is a real outcome among unmarried individuals,” said lead author Maria Elena Martinez from University of California-San Diego.

The results also showed that unmarried patients born outside of the US experienced better survival rates compared to those born in the US.

The benefits of being married vary by race and ethnicity, with male non-Hispanic white bachelors experiencing the worst outcome. This group had a 24 percent higher mortality rate than their married counterparts.

Unmarried non-Hispanic white females had a 17 percent increase in mortality compared to those who were married, while single Asian or Pacific Islander females experienced a six percent increase in cancer death compared to wedded counterparts.

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“Physicians treating unmarried patients should ask if there is someone within their social network available to help the individual physically and emotionally during treatment. More attention should be paid to this consistent and adverse health effect of being unmarried,” Martinez added in the paper published in the journal Cancer.

The team analysed data from the California Cancer Registry to study 393,470 men and 389,697 women.

“The results suggest that the more acculturated you become to US culture, the more it impacts cancer survivorship,” Martínez added.

The team suggests further work to study the association between marriage and cancer mortality to help inform future decisions that may reduce cancer disparities.

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