Partners of cancer patients too get ill

Last Updated: Mar 05, 2011, 00:00 AM IST

A new study has found that people who are married to or cohabiting with a cancer patient suffer more illness in the year following their spouse or partner`s cancer diagnosis.

The research was conducted by Katarina Sjovall, a cancer nurse from Lund University, Sweden.

Sjovall studied partners of individuals with colorectal cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer or prostate cancer.

Her study shows that the number of diagnosed diseases among partners increased by 25 per cent after the cancer diagnosis.

"Having a close relative with cancer entails worry and anxiety and an increased workload that places a strain on one`s health", Sjovall said.

The most significant increase was in diagnoses of mental illnesses such as depression.

But there was also a significant increase in cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal diseases and abdominal diseases.

The highest increase was in cardiovascular disease among spouses and partners of those with lung cancer, which increased by almost 50 per cent.

The worst affected were spouses and partners of lung cancer patients, who had over 70 per cent more days off sick than the general population in the year following their partner`s diagnosis.

And healthcare costs increased most for men under 64 who had a partner with cancer.

"One possible explanation could be that the men feel less comfortable taking on a caring role as the partner of a cancer patient and that they therefore suffer more stress", said Sjovall.

ANI