Patients with breast cancer who have larger social networks are associated with having better breast cancer-specific and overall survival, according to a study published in Cancer.1
Researchers evaluated data from 9267 patients from the After Breast Cancer Pooling Project within 2 years of being diagnosed with breast cancer. They assessed for a social network index that included information on whether a patient had “a spouse/partner, religious ties, community ties, friendship ties,” as well as living first-degree relatives.
They observed a total of 1448 recurrences as well as 1521 deaths (of which 990 were breast cancer-related). Similar associations were found among 3 of the 4 examined cohorts. Women in the fourth cohort were noted as having no associations between social networks and breast cancer-specific outcomes.
Women who were deemed socially isolated had a higher risk for recurrence as well as both breast cancer-specific and all-cause mortality compared to socially-integrated women upon adjusting for covariates, especially among women who had stage II or II cancer.
Having neither a spouse/partner nor community ties was predictive of higher breast cancer-specific mortality, but only among older Caucasian women. In contrast, a lack of relatives and friendship ties was predictive of higher breast cancer-specific mortality among non-Caucasian women only.
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“Clinicians should assess social network information as a marker of prognosis because critical supports may differ with sociodemographic factors,” the authors concluded.
- Kroenke CH, Michael YL, Poole EM, et al. Postdiagnosis social networks and breast cancer mortality in the After Breast Cancer Pooling Project. Cancer. 2016 Dec 12. doi: 10.1002/cncr.30440 [Epub ahead of print]