Married lung cancer patients survive longer than patients who are single, researchers from the University of Maryland have found.
The finding is based on an analysis of the data of more than 160 patients with stage III non-small cell lung cancer over a 10-year period, from January 2000 and December 2010.
The study found that 33 percent of married patients were still alive after three years compared to 10 percent of the single patients.
"Marital status appears to be an important independent predictor of survival in patients with locally advanced non-small cell lung cancer," said Elizabeth Nichols, researcher at the University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Centre.
Researchers also found that married women had the best three-year survival rate (46 percent). Single men and women had the worst rate (25 percent).
However, the reason married patients have a higher survival rate is still not clear. Researchers believe that probably it is because married patients have enough family and social support. They claim that better supportive care and support mechanisms for cancer patients can have a greater impact on increasing survival than many new cancer therapy techniques.
Scientists and researchers have been urged to not only focus on finding new drugs and cancer therapies, but also come up with ways to better support cancer patients.
"We need to better understand why marriage is a factor in our patients' survival," said Steven J Feigenberg, an associate professor of radiation oncology at the School of Medicine. "We're also trying to determine if these findings can be corroborated in the multi-institutional setting."
Lung cancer is one of major causes of deaths across the world. It is the second most common cancer in the UK. In 2009, 41,428 people were diagnosed with lung cancer in the UK. Among them, 23,041 (56%) were men and 18,387 (44%) women. In 2010, 34,859 people died from lung cancer in the UK, according to a Cancer Research UK report.
"Lung cancer is the No 1 cause of cancer death in both men and women, and this study by researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine suggests that having a spouse who can act as a caregiver may improve survival for patients with this type of cancer. We must figure out ways to help all of our cancer patients live longer, with a better quality of life, regardless of their marital status," said E Albert Reece, vice-president for medical affairs at the University of Maryland.