The influence of marital status on the stage at diagnosis, treatment, and survival of adult patients with gastric cancer: a population-based study

Jieyun Zhang, Lu Gan, Zhenhua Wu, Shican Yan, Xiyu Liu, Weijian Guo
Oncotarget 2017 April 4, 8 (14): 22385-22405

BACKGROUND & AIMS: Marital status was reported as a prognostic factor in many cancers. However, its role in gastric cancer (GC) hasn't been thoroughly explored. In this study, we aimed to investigate the effect of marital status on survival, stage, treatment, and survival in subgroups.

METHODS: We used the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) database and identified 16910 GC patients. These patients were categorized into married (58.44%) and unmarred (41.56%) groups. Pearson chi-square, Wilcoxon-Mann-Whitney, Log-rank, multivariate Cox regression, univariate and multivariate binomial or multinomial logistic regression analysis were used in our analysis. Subgroup analyses of married versus unmarried patients were summarized in a forest plot.

RESULTS: Married patients had better 5-year overall survival (OS) (32.09% VS 24.61%, P<0.001) and 5-year cancer-caused special survival (CSS) (37.74% VS 32.79%, P<0.001) than unmarried ones. Then we studied several underlying mechanisms. Firstly, married patients weren't in earlier stage at diagnosis (P=0.159). Secondly, married patients were more likely to receive surgery (P < 0.001) or radiotherapy (P < 0.001) compared with the unmarried. Thirdly, in subgroup analyses, married patients still had survival advantage in subgroups with stage II-IV and no radiotherapy.

CONCLUSIONS: These results showed that marital status was an independently prognostic factor for both OS and CSS in GC patients. Undertreatment and lack of social support in unmarried patients were potential explanations. With the knowledge of heterogeneous effects of marriage in subgroups, we can target unmarried patients with better social support, especially who are diagnosed at late stage and undergo no treatment.

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