By Robert Preidt
MONDAY, February 3, 2020 (HealthDay News) – A recent study finds that older women with colon or rectal cancer are more likely to die earlier if they do not have the support of family, friends or others.
For the study, the researchers looked at more than 1,400 postmenopausal women with colon or rectal cancer who enrolled in the long-term study of the US Women's Health Initiative. UU. (WHI)
Compared to those with strong social support, those with little support had a 52% higher risk of death from all causes and a 42% higher risk of death from colorectal cancer, the findings showed.
When researchers delved into specific types of support, mortality rates were higher when women did not have emotional support; informational support; help with homework, housework or other daily needs; or someone to have fun with and forget about your illness.
Having a partner or being involved with your community or in a religious organization was associated with a lower risk of death from rectal cancer, but not from colon cancer.
And living was only related to an increased risk of death in patients with rectal cancer, according to the Kaiser Permanente study published recently in the journal Cancer.
"These findings support the idea that women who have friends and family members who support them when they are diagnosed do better," said lead author Candyce Kroenke of the Kaiser research division.
The message for patients with a serious illness is to seek help.
"You can and should ask for support instead of doing it alone," Kroenke said.
The findings are a reminder to health care providers that social support is an important factor in patient outcomes.
"Doctors can identify patients at risk of little social support and provide them with additional resources," Kroenke said in a Kaiser Permanente press release.
Those resources could include a therapist to help patients cope with the emotional burden of cancer treatment, or social services to provide logistical support, such as trips to medical appointments, Kroenke suggested.