Effect of marriage on outcomes for elderly patients with head and neck cancer

Eric W Schaefer, Matthew Z Wilson, David Goldenberg, Heath Mackley, Wayne Koch, Christopher S Hollenbeak
Head & Neck 2015, 37 (5): 735-42

BACKGROUND: Beneficial effects of marriage on cancer outcomes have been observed for many cancers, but oral cavity and pharyngeal cancers have never been examined.

METHODS: We used the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program linked with Medicare records to identify 9403 elderly patients (age ≥66 years) with oral cavity and pharyngeal cancers. We used a propensity score analysis to estimate differences in proportions (pd ) between married and unmarried patients on stage, treatment, and survival.

RESULTS: For oral cavity cancers, a larger proportion of married patients presented with earlier stage (pd = 0.05; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.02-0.08), were treated with surgery (pd = 0.06; 95% CI, 0.03-0.08), and survived 1 year (pd = 0.04; 95% CI, 0.01-0.06). Similar results were found for pharyngeal cancers for stage (pd = 0.04; 95% CI, 0.01-0.06), treatment with chemotherapy and radiation (pd = 0.04; 95% CI, 0.01-0.07), and 1-year survival (pd = 0.01; 95% CI, 0.08-0.16).

CONCLUSION: Marriage is associated with earlier stage, aggressive treatment, and superior survival for patients with oral cavity and pharyngeal cancers.

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