(HealthDay News) — For postmenopausal women with colorectal cancer (CRC), low social support is associated with elevated overall and CRC-specific mortality, according to a study published online Jan. 23 in Cancer.

Candyce H. Kroenke, Sc.D., M.P.H., from Kaiser Permanente Northern California in Oakland, and colleagues examined associations between perceived social support, social integration, living alone, and CRC outcomes in 1,429 postmenopausal women diagnosed from 1993 to 2017 with stages I to IV CRC. The associations of social support and types of support, assessed up to six years before diagnosis, were evaluated with mortality.

The researchers found that compared with women with high support, those with low and moderate perceived social support had significantly higher overall mortality in multivariable analyses (hazard ratios [95 percent confidence intervals], 1.52 [1.23 to 1.88] and 1.21 [0.98 to 1.50], respectively), and they had higher CRC mortality (hazard ratios [95 percent confidence intervals], 1.42 [1.07 to 1.88] and 1.28 [0.96 to 1.70], respectively). Significant associations were seen for emotional, informational, and tangible support and positive interaction, but not for affection. Level of social integration was associated with overall but not CRC mortality in main effects analyses; there was no association between living alone and mortality outcomes. In patients with rectal cancer, level of social integration and living alone were related to outcomes.

“Social support is important to prognosis in women with CRC and clinicians should collect information on social support in these patients, to link patients to resources and to consider whether clinical care might be modified to accommodate social support needs,” the authors write.


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