Married stomach cancer patients survive longer, study finds

Nagging wife, longer life! Married stomach cancer patients survive for longer because they get ’emotional encouragement’ to stay in check, study finds

  • Married stomach cancer patients had better odds of surviving than singletons 
  • Experts say support and nagging to get symptoms checked could explain why
  • Findings are based on data from about 3,500 US early stomach cancer patients

Being married may help cancer patients survive for longer, if new research is to be believed.

Chinese scientists found 72 per cent of married men and women were likely to be alive five years after being diagnosed with gastric cancer.  

Academics theorised this was due to the ’emotional encouragement’ their partner offered them, as well nagging them to get symptoms checked earlier.

At the other end of the scale, widows had the worst prognosis (60 per cent).

Marital status of patients should now be considered a risk factor, the experts argued, calling for greater support to those who are single or separated. 

A study of over 3,500 US adults suggests a stomach cancer patient’s martial status is a factor that may influence their chances of survival 

Stomach cancer is the fifth most common cancer and the third leading cancer killer globally. 

Anhui Medical University academics examined data from 3,600 patients diagnosed with early stage stomach cancer between 2010 and 2015. 

They compared a number of factors, such as a patient’s age, tumour size and marital status, to survival rates.

The scientists said they were inspired to explore the impact of marital status on stomach cancer survival after previous studies had shown being married boosted the life expectancy of liver and lung cancer patients.

What are the signs of stomach cancer?

Stomach cancer is a cancer that’s found anywhere in the stomach.

It has many possible symptoms which can be hard to spot such as:

  • heartburn or acid reflux
  • having problems swallowing (dysphagia)
  • feeling or being sick
  • symptoms of indigestion, such as burping a lot
  • feeling full very quickly when eating
  • loss of appetite or losing weight without trying to
  • a lump at the top of your tummy
  • pain at the top of your tummy
  • feeling tired or having no energy

These symptoms can be caused by range of problems  and might not be cancer.

People experiencing them are advised to contact their GP.

Study participants were split almost evenly by gender.

About 54 per cent were married, 17 per cent widowed, 14 per cent single and 7 per cent divorced. The remaining were either classed as separated or had an unknown marital status.

While tumour size was unsurprisingly the biggest single factor in survival, the team said marital status was found to have a ‘moderate influence’.

‘We speculate this might be due to the fact that married patients had better financial conditions and emotional encouragement,’ they said.

‘Separated patients might be more likely to experience financial difficulties [and] emotional loss.’ 

They also added having a spouse could also lead to early diagnosis of gastric cancer due to a partner encouraging someone to get their symptoms checked. 

The main symptoms of stomach cancer include heartburn or acid reflux, problems swallowing, nausea or omitting, indigestion, pain or lumps in the stomach or losing weight without meaning to. 

About 6,500 new cases of stomach cancer are diagnosed in the UK each year with about 4,000 people dying of the disease each year.

About 26,000 Americans are diagnosed with stomach cancer each year, and some 11,000 deaths from the disease are recorded each year.  

Only about 17 per cent of people diagnosed with stomach cancer survive for 10 years, according to Cancer Research UK. 

Stomach cancer is more common in people aged 75 and over, with men more likely to get it than women.

The latest study was published in the Journal of Investigative Medicine.

Women had significantly better survival rates overall, regardless of whether they were married, divorced or widowed. 

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