Cancer patients without partners have greater risk of death

NEW research has found cancer patients without a partner at the time of diagnosis are more likely to die within 10 years than those with a partner, regardless of their cancer type.

The Cancer Council Queensland and QUT study examined 176,050 cases of the ten leading cancers in Queensland, diagnosed from 1996 to 2012.

The study found the chance of death was 26% higher for unpartnered men and 20% higher for unpartnered women than their partnered counterparts.

Cancer Council Queensland chief executive officer Professor Jeff Dunn AO said the reasons for higher survival remained unclear but were likely to include economic, psychosocial, environmental and structural factors.

"Having a partner has been linked to a healthier lifestyle, greater financial resources and increased practical or social support while undergoing treatment," he said.

"Support from a partner can also influence treatment choices and increase social support to help manage the psychosocial effects of cancer.

"Health professionals managing cancer patients should be aware of the increased mortality risk among unpartnered patients, and tailor follow-up treatment accordingly."

Out of the 176,050 patients analysed for the study, 68% had a partner, which included those who were married or in a de facto relationship. The study did not consider changes in partner status since diagnosis.

"The results of this study are a reminder for all Queenslanders to seek support for their cancer diagnosis - regardless of whether they are partnered or unpartnered," Prof Dunn said.

"Free resources, advice, referrals to our Cancer Counselling Service offered at no out-of-pocket cost and a listening ear are available from qualified health professionals on 13 11 20.

"We urge all Queenslanders affected by all cancers to reach out for financial, emotional, and practical assistance."

More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available via 13 11 20 or  

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