Tags: cancer | breast | social

Social Networks Hike Women’s Cancer Survival

Tuesday, 13 Nov 2012 09:53 AM





Breast cancer survivors with strong support networks are far more likely to live long and better lives than isolated women or even those with a large number of relatives and friends who offer only mild support, new research shows.
The study, conducted by Kaiser Permanente scientists and published in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, is the first to suggest that the quality of a cancer patient’s social network networks — including spouses or partners, female relatives, friends, and religious, social and community ties — is a better predictor of her survival odds than merely the size of her support group.
"Women with small networks and high levels of support were not at greater risk than those with large networks, but those with small networks and low levels of support were," said lead researcher Candyce H. Kroenke, with the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research.
In fact, women with small networks and low levels of support were 61 percent more likely to die from breast cancer and other causes than those with small networks and high levels of support, Kroenke said.
"We also found that when family relationships were less supportive, community and religious ties were critical to survival. This suggests that both the quality of relationships, rather than just the size of the network, matters to survival, and that community relationships matter when relationships with friends and family are less supportive."
Kroenke’s study included 2,264 women who were diagnosed with early-stage cancer between 1997 and 2000. Researchers measured levels of social support from friends and family using a survey that asked women to rate the quality of their relationships on a five-point scale.
The results showed socially isolated women were 34 percent more likely to die from breast cancer or other causes more connected women.
Researchers suggested breast cancer care include programs designed to help patients improve the quality of their relationships.
The study was funded, in part, by the National Cancer Institute.

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Breast cancer survivors with strong support networks are far more likely to live long and better lives.
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Tuesday, 13 Nov 2012 09:53 AM
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