Living With Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer patients live longer with social support

(RxWiki News) Researchers have looked at the value of social support. People living with cancer who are connected with and attached to other people tend to do better, physically, mentally and emotionally. But do they live longer?

Yes. Women who have ovarian cancer live longer when they have lots of solid social support and interaction with other people - friends, family and others.

"Reach out and make a new friend."

Susan Lutgendorf, PhD, in the Departments of Psychology, Urology, and Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Iowa, was the lead investigator of the study that sought to examine if and how social support affects how long a woman with ovarian cancer lives.

The researchers looked at two types of support: 1) having relationships and connections with other people, and 2) having access to assistance as needed.

The records of 168 women with epithelial ovarian cancer were reviewed. Investigators were observing how long the women lived from the time they had surgery until December 2010.

Investigators found that women who had good social support lived longer.

The median (middle) time women with low social support lived with ovarian cancer was 3.35 years. By contrast, at the time the study completed, 59 percent of women with lots of attachments were alive after 4.70 years.

No relationship was seen between having access to assistance and lifespan.

The authors summarize their findings, "Clinical implications include the importance of screening for deficits in the social environment and consideration of support activities during adjuvant treatment."

This study was published July 16 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Funding and financial disclosures were not available.

Review Date: 
August 2, 2012