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.

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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.


  1. 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]