Strong social support benefits breast cancer patients

Last Updated: Jan 21, 2011, 00:00 AM IST

Washington: A new research has suggested that breast cancer patients who have a strong social support system in the first year after diagnosis are less likely to die or have a recurrence of cancer.

Scientists from Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC) and the Shanghai Institute of Preventive Medicine carried out the study on female breast cancer survivors in China since 2002.

From 2002 to 2004, a total of 2,230 breast cancer survivors completed a quality of life survey six months after diagnosis and a majority responded to a follow-up survey 36 months after diagnosis.

The women were asked about physical issues like sleep, eating and pain, psychological well-being, social support and material well-being. The answers were converted to an overall quality of life score.

During a median follow-up of 4.8 years after the initial quality of life assessment, the investigators documented participants who had died or been diagnosed with a cancer recurrence.

Six months after diagnosis, only greater social well-being was significantly associated with a decreased risk of dying or having a cancer recurrence.

Compared to women with the lowest scores, women who scored highest on the social well-being quality of life scale had a 48 percent reduction in their risk of a cancer recurrence and a 38 percent reduction in the risk of death.

The study was published in a recent edition of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

ANI