Being Married May Help You Beat Cancer - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Published on November 08, 2013

Being Married May Help You Beat Cancer

Battling cancer is one of the most difficult experiences anyone will ever have to go through in life. But as with most issues we face, it’s always better to have a loved one help you get through it.

A recent study discovered that among a group of participants who were diagnosed with a fatal type of cancer, those who were married had a greater chance of living longer. Married individuals were also more likely to detect cancer earlier on and receive potentially effective treatments.

The link was so strong, in fact, that some cancer patients benefited more from being married than from certain types of chemotherapy treatments. Unmarried cancer patients were also 17 percent more likely to have cancer that spread beyond its original site.

So why the vast difference?

Researchers from the study suggest that spouses play an important role in helping their loved ones get the screenings and treatments they need. Higher survival rates are also attributed to the social aspect of marriage, especially when spouses encourage (or nag, in some cases) one another to take care of their health. Yes, nagging can be a good thing sometimes! When you’re single, it’s easier to brush off annual physical exams and screenings, such as colonoscopies or mammograms.

Additionally, those who discover they have cancer are often overwhelmed by the news and information provided by their doctor. Many times, it might help to have a spouse or loved one present who can also listen in and assist with the decision making process, which is particularly helpful since most are unable to adequately do so.

These findings support a similar study from 2005, which found that married women who were diagnosed with breast cancer had higher survival rates than those who were single. Researchers from this study also found that unmarried women were not only more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer at a later stage, but also less likely to get the treatment they need.

Does this mean it’s time to head to Vegas for a hurry-up wedding?

Not exactly. Doctors suggest that whatever it is about marriage that helps people live longer, a close friend or loved one can likely provide an equal amount of social support. So don’t be afraid to reach out to someone you can trust. It just might save your life. 

For more information about Crozer-Keystone Health System Cancer Services, visit You can also call 1-866-695-HOPE (4673) to request an appointment with a physician who cares for cancer patients.

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