Unmarried non-Hispanic white males who are diagnosed with cancers that contribute most to mortality have the worst overall survival, with up to a 24% higher mortality rate.1

Therefore, “physician awareness of this vulnerable group is important,” María Elena Martínez, PhD, told Cancer Therapy Advisor.

“In fact, all members of the health care team should be cognizant of these findings,” added Dr Martínez, of the Moores Cancer Center at the University of California, San Diego in La Jolla, CA, and lead author of the study published in Cancer. “We propose that health care providers query their unmarried patients about social support, especially for male patients.”

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Married people with cancer have lower mortality rates—as well as an earlier cancer stage at diagnosis and receipt of definitive treatment—than those who are unmarried; however, data are scarce on whether this may hold true across different racial/ethnic groups.

To determine whether risk of overall mortality associated with marital status differed by racial/ethnic group, Dr Martinez and colleagues investigated data from the population-based California Cancer Registry, recording “all first primary invasive cancers diagnosed from 2000 through 2009 for the 10 most common sites of cancer-related death for non-Hispanic whites, blacks, Asians/Pacific Islanders, and Hispanics.”1

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The study cohort included 393 470 male and 389 697 female patients with cancer. Through December 31, 2012, 204 007 males and 182 600 females had deaths from all causes recorded. For males, the 10 most common sites of cancer deaths were prostate, lung and bronchus, colon, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, urinary bladder, liver and intrahepatic bile duct, leukemia, pancreas, stomach, and esophagus. For females, additional sites included breast, corpus and uterus, not otherwise specific, ovary, and brain and other nervous system cancers.