Marital status, treatment, and survival in patients with glioblastoma multiforme: a population based study

Susan M Chang, Fred G Barker
Cancer 2005 November 1, 104 (9): 1975-84

BACKGROUND: Social factors influence cancer treatment choices, potentially affecting patient survival. In the current study, the authors studied the interrelations between marital status, treatment received, and survival in patients with glioblastoma multiforme (GM), using population-based data.

METHODS: The data source was the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Public Use Database, 1988-2001, 2004 release, all registries. Multivariate logistic, ordinal, and Cox regression analyses adjusted for demographic and clinical variables were used.

RESULTS: Of 10,987 patients with GM, 67% were married, 31% were unmarried, and 2% were of unknown marital status. Tumors were slightly larger at the time of diagnosis in unmarried patients (49% of unmarried patients had tumors larger than 45 mm vs. 45% of married patients; P = 0.004, multivariate analysis). Unmarried patients were less likely to undergo surgical resection (vs. biopsy; 75% of unmarried patients vs. 78% of married patients) and were less likely to receive postoperative radiation therapy (RT) (70% of unmarried patients vs. 79% of married patients). On multivariate analysis, the odds ratio (OR) for resection (vs. biopsy) in unmarried patients was 0.88 (95% confidence interval [95% CI], 0.79-0.98; P = 0.02), and the OR for RT in unmarried patients was 0.69 (95% CI, 0.62-0.77; P < 0.001). Unmarried patients more often refused both surgical resection and RT. Unmarried patients who underwent surgical resection and RT were found to have a shorter survival than similarly treated married patients (hazard ratio for unmarried patients, 1.10; P = 0.003).

CONCLUSIONS: Unmarried patients with GM presented with larger tumors, were less likely to undergo both surgical resection and postoperative RT, and had a shorter survival after diagnosis when compared with married patients, even after adjustment for treatment and other prognostic factors.

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