A strong social support system can play a large role in how people diagnosed with cancer manage the disease. Those with emotionally satisfying relationships may have prolonged life expectancy or even ward off a relapse of cancer later on.
The study was conducted by Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the Shanghai Institute of Preventative Medicine over the last eight years. Researchers worked with patients enrolled in the Shanghai Breast Cancer Survivor Study who completed a quality of life survey after six months of being diagnosed with cancer. The majority of patients completed a follow-up survey 30 months later. Responses on different physical issues were calculated into a general quality of life score.
Roughly five years later, researchers documented participants who had cancer recurrences or had died from the disease. Compared to women with low scores, women who had the highest quality of life score had a 48 percent reduction in another cancer occurrence and a 38 percent reduction in the risk of death.
The findings of the study indicate that strong emotional and social support early after a diagnosis of breast cancer can be a strong ally in a woman or man's fight with the disease. Oncologists and therapists can use these study results to help develop a support network for breast cancer patients as part of the course of treatment for the disease. Such social support is especially important in the first year after a cancer diagnosis. Marital satisfaction is also a key factor in the quality of life a person with breast cancer may have.
Should a person be diagnosed with breast cancer, there are a number of things he or she can do to improve the support network.
* Spend considerable time talking and sharing moments with your spouse and children.
* Surround yourself with positive minded people.
* Connect with breast cancer survivors through a local organization in the community or online.
* Participate in events designed to raise money and awareness for the fight against breast cancer.
* Accept help and support from others when it is needed.
* Consider psychological counseling if an added boost is needed.
* Share your experiences with others who may be in similar situations.
* Volunteer your time doing something that has nothing to do with the disease, like a club or activity.