According to a study published in Cancer Management and Research, being married — which may be influenced by race/ethnicity and gender — improved survival outcomes among patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

Recent studies have suggested that married patients experience a survival benefit for various cancers; marriage has been associated with earlier detection, undergoing treatment, as well as better economic status and social support. The impact of race, ethnicity, and gender as they pertain to marriage on survival outcomes in HCC however, has not been investigated.

For this analysis, researchers accessed the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database and studied the outcomes of 12,168 patients diagnosed with HCC between 2004 and 2012. Patients’ race/ethnicity data were evaluated, and patients were stratified by married status into 4 groups: single, married, separated/divorced, and widowed.

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Of the eligible study patients, 58.2% were married. Married patients not only underwent definitive treatment such as surgery and radiation, they also had significantly improved overall and cancer-specific mortality (P < .0001).

Once the analysis was adjusted for race/ethnicity, results showed that the adjusted hazard ratio (aHR) of overall mortality for unmarried patients compared with married patients was 1.25 among Hispanic patients (95% CI, 1.13-1.39; P < .001) and lowest (1.13) for Asian/Pacific Islanders (95% CI, 1.00-1.28; P = .042).

When stratified by gender, the aHR was significantly higher in males (aHR, 1.27; 95% CI, 1.20-1.33; P < .001).

Study results suggest that marriage status at time of diagnosis significantly affects survival outcomes for patients with HCC. The authors concluded that “in the consideration of decreased rates of married status, more social support and comprehensive interventions should be given to these populations.”


Wu W, Fang D, Shi D, Bian X, Li L. Effects of marital status on survival of hepatocellular carcinoma by race/ethnicity and gender [Published online January 3, 2018]. Canc Manag Res. doi: 10.2147/CMAR.S142019