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Using the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) database, a population-based cancer registry covering 26% of the US population, Sprehn and colleagues were able to compare survival rates with marital status at the time of diagnosis in cancer patients [1]. A total of 3.9 million people were included in the analysis of all-site cancers. Survival was highest among married patients: 63% at 5 years and 57% at 10 years after diagnosis. Those separated from their spouses had the lowest survival (45% and 37%, respectively), followed by those who were widowed (47%, 41%), divorced (52%, 46%) and never married (57%, 52%). The 5-year and 10-year relative survivals of separated patients were 72% and 64% than that of married patients. The relationship persisted when data were analyzed by gender. There were no sub-analyses by the type of malignancy.


  • Amos Pines
    Department of Medicine T, Ichilov Hospital, Tel-Aviv, Israel


  1. Sprehn GC, Chambers JE, Saykin AJ, Konski A, Johnstone PA. Decreased cancer survival in individuals separated at time of diagnosis: critical period for cancer pathophysiology? Cancer 2009 August 24. Epub ahead of print.
  2. Steptoe A, Owen N, Kunz-Ebrecht SR, Brydon L. Loneliness and neuroendocrine, cardiovascular, and inflammatory stress responses in middle-aged men and women.
    Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2004;29:593-611.
  3. Bauer ME, Jeckel CM, Luz C. The role of stress factors during aging of the immune system. Ann NY Acad Sci 2009;1153:139-52.
  4. Gidron Y, Ronson A. Psychosocial factors, biological mediators, and cancer prognosis: a new look at an old story. Curr Opin Oncol 2008;20:386-92.
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