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According to a report by NBC News, married cancer patients are 20 percent more likely survive. Specifically, married men had a 23 percent better survival rate than single men and 16 percent of women had a better survival rate than single women.

The report is based on a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology and is based on statistics correlated for nearly a million cancer patients afflicted with the ten most deadly forms of cancer:

  • Lung
  • Colorectal
  • Breast
  • Pancreatic
  • Prostate
  • Liver
  • Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma
  • Head/Neck
  • Ovarian
  • Esophageal

According to one author of the study, Dr. Paul Nguyen of Dana-Farmer/Brigham and Children’s Cancer Center, it is believed that the partnership support offered by spouses is the key to the increased survival rate. A spouse can be an advocate for the patient, making sure they keep appointments, attending appointments with their spouse, engaging with the patient and his care providers by asking questions, keeping track of treatment protocols, and helping with medication support outside of care facilities. The other intangible that likely plays into the equation, is that a close emotional bond with a spouse enables a patient to share their emotional burden of what they are going through in a way a single patient may not be able to do.

Nyguen notes, however, that the point of the story is not to scare or worry single patients. To the contrary, he hopes it underscores the importance of social support systems for those patients who, for whatever reason, are not married. So, if you are single and are diagnosed with cancer, reach out to those around you for support. It may save your life.

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