Unmarried patients with a first primary, invasive cancer appear to have worse survival compared with married patients, which may be partially due to differences in economic resources, a study published in the journal Cancer has shown.1

Although married patients with cancer have more favorable survival than unmarried patients, the underlying reasons for this association are unclear.

Therefore, researchers sought to evaluate the role of economic resources, including neighborhood socioeconomic status and health insurance status, in the survival difference between married and unmarried patients.

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For the study, researchers analyzed data from 783 167 patients with a diagnosis between 2000 and 2009 of a first primary, invasive cancer of the 10 most common sites of cancer-related death for each sex.

Patients were followed through 2012, and during that time, 386 607 deaths occurred.

Results showed that unmarried patients had an increased risk for death compared with married patients.

Men in particular (HR, 1.27; 95% CI, 1.26-1.29) had a higher risk of mortality than females (HR, 1.19; 95% CI, 1.18-1.20; P < .001).

Researchers found that by adjusting for health insurance status and neighborhood socioeconomic status, the risk of death decreased for both men and women, but was still elevated for unmarried patients.

The study further demonstrated that there may be a synergistic effect, with unmarried patients who were underinsured and living in high neighborhood socioeconomic status areas having a higher risk for death than those underinsured and residing in low neighborhood socioeconomic status areas.


1. Gomez SL, Hurley S, Canchola AJ, et al. Effects of marital status and economic resources on survival after cancer: a population-based study [published online ahead of print April 11, 2016]. Cancer. doi:10.1002/cncr.29885.