New research has found men living with a partner when diagnosed with prostate cancer have a significantly lower risk of death from the disease, and death due to other causes than men without a partner.
A Cancer Council Queensland, Griffith University and University of Queensland study investigated the impact of a range of factors on short-term mortality outcomes for men diagnosed with prostate cancer in Queensland.
The research found a consistently higher risk of mortality for men diagnosed with prostate cancer while living without a partner, even after considering clinical factors.
Director of Menzies Health Institute QLD, Professor Suzanne Chambers, said the mortality risk varied for men depending on their specific characteristics.
“Our finding, that men living with a partner at diagnosis have a reduced risk of dying from their prostate cancer and also from other causes, is consistent with a growing body of international studies,” Prof Chambers said.
“The benefit for prostate cancer mortality is particularly pronounced for men diagnosed with more advanced cancers.
“The explanations for these associations remain unclear. Having a partner may have a positive influence on nutritional status or other lifestyle choices that affect the progression of disease and ability to tolerate treatment.
“A partner may also provide a cancer patient with an advocate and support, which may have a positive impact on their overall outcome.
“It’s vital that men without a partner have appropriate support networks. We also need to invest in further research to better understand these findings.”
The study examined data from the Queensland Cancer Registry from January 2005 to July 2007, with follow-up to 2011. More than 7000 prostate cancer cases were analysed.
Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift encouraged Queenslanders with any questions about prostate cancer support to call Cancer Council’s 13 11 20.
“Men with prostate cancer, and their family and friends, are encouraged to call 13 11 20 for advice, support or referral to support groups or specialised cancer counselling,” Ms Clift said.
“We encourage those affected to talk to one of our qualified health professionals for information, support, advice, and emotional assistance.”
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in Queensland, accounting for nearly 1 in 3 of all male cancers and around 4000 new diagnoses each year.
Tragically, about 650 Queensland men die from the disease annually.
The study was undertaken in collaboration with the National Cancer Registry Ireland and NUI Galway, funded by the Irish Health Research Board.