Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Cancer patients’ partners become ill themselves

People who are married to or cohabiting with a cancer patient suffer more illness in the year following their spouse or partner’s cancer diagnosis. This has been shown in a new thesis by cancer nurse Katarina Sjövall from Lund University, Sweden.

Katarina Sjövall has studied partners of individuals with colorectal cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer or prostate cancer. The study shows that the number of diagnosed diseases among partners increased by 25 per cent after the cancer diagnosis.

“Having a close relative with cancer entails worry and anxiety and an increased workload that places a strain on one’s health”, she says.

The most significant increase was in diagnoses of mental illnesses such as depression. However, there was also a significant increase in cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal diseases and abdominal diseases. The highest increase was in cardiovascular disease among spouses and partners of those with lung cancer, which increased by almost 50 per cent.

The increase in diagnosed diseases led to increased use of the health service, primarily in-patient care. Among the partners who worked, the number of days of sick leave also increased. The worst affected were spouses and partners of lung cancer patients, who had over 70 per cent more days off sick than the general population in the year following their partner’s diagnosis.

While women in general are responsible for a larger proportion of healthcare costs than men in Sweden, the reverse was true in this case. Healthcare costs increased most for men under 64 who had a partner with cancer.

“One possible explanation could be that the men feel less comfortable taking on a caring role as the partner of a cancer patient and that they therefore suffer more stress”, says Katarina Sjövall.

In one of her studies, Ms Sjövall interviewed patients with colorectal cancer and their partners. The patients sometimes spoke of feeling that their physical and psychological experiences were not acknowledged by the health service. Neither did their partners always feel as involved as they would like to be.

“Our interviews showed that the cancer patients sometimes chose not to tell those closest to them what they were going through out of consideration for them. However, this considerate attitude could have the opposite effect”, says Katarina Sjövall.

When it comes to the health service, Ms Sjövall finds that care at the end of life is good at also helping the relatives and making them feel involved in what is happening. At earlier stages, however, there may be wide variations in approach and opportunities to offer support to relatives.

Another part of the study looks at the cancer patients’ sick leave in the year prior to the cancer diagnosis. Individuals with colon cancer and lung cancer had twice as many days off sick as the control group even in the year before their diagnosis.

“One reason could be that both forms of cancer have a lot to do with lifestyle. Therefore, individuals with colon cancer often also have diabetes, and individuals with lung cancer often have cardiovascular disease. The sick leave may have been due to these other diseases – but it could also have been due to early symptoms of the cancer. This makes one wish there were better ways to make a diagnosis based on very early cancer symptoms”, says Katarina Sjövall.

The title of the thesis is Living with cancer. Impact on cancer patient and partner and will be defended on 4 March.

Katarina Sjövall can be contacted on +46 46 17 75 12 or +46 768 67 49 79,

A downloadable image is available at

Ingela Björck | idw
Further information:

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>