Socially isolated cancer patients face higher recurrence, mortality rates

Washington D.C. [USA], Dec. 13 : A new study finds that more socially isolated breast cancer survivors are at higher rates of recurrence and mortality, than women with larger social networks experienced better outcomes.

Researchers from the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, California, published the study online in the journal of CANCER.

"It is well established that larger social networks predict lower overall mortality in healthy populations and in breast cancer patients, but associations with breast cancer-specific outcomes like recurrence and breast cancer mortality have been mixed," said study author Candyce Kroenke.

"These findings, from a large pooled cohort of nearly 10,000 women with breast cancer, confirm the generally beneficial influence of women's social ties on breast cancer recurrence and mortality; however, they also point to complexity, that not all social ties are beneficial, and not in all women," Kroenke added.

The team examined information on 9267 women with breast cancer to see how social networks within two years following their diagnosis might affect their survival.

They found socially isolated women had a 40 percent higher risk of recurrence, a 60 percent higher risk of dying from breast cancer and a 70 percent higher risk of dying from any cause, while adding that these associations were stronger in those with stage I/II cancer.

Ties to relatives and friends predicted lower breast cancer-specific mortality in non-White women, whereas having a spouse predicted lower breast cancer-specific mortality in older White women.

Community ties predicted better outcomes in older Whites and Asians. Kroenke added that clinicians should assess information on social networks as a marker of prognosis and should consider that critical supports may differ by sociodemographic factors.

Source: ANI