Background: Two recently reported randomized trials, one among patients with advanced breast cancer and the other among patients with early stage melanoma, suggested that social support may affect survival favorably. This study assesses relationships of social support indicators with 7-year survival among women diagnosed with localized or regional stage breast cancer.
Methods: All newly diagnosed patients with surgically treated localized or regional disease in seven Quebec City hospitals in 1984 were considered for this analysis. Among 235 eligible patients, 224 (95%) participated in a home interview 3 months after surgery. This interview provided information on the use of confidants in the 3 months after surgery. Data on disease and treatment characteristics were abstracted from patients' medical records.
Results: Compared with women who used no confidant in the 3 months after surgery, the hazard ratio for the 7-year period was 0.61 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.33-1.12) among those who had used at least one confidant, 0.54 (95% CI, 0.28-1.06) in women who used two or more types of confidant, and 0.51 (95% CI, 0.22-1.18) among those whose confidants included either physician or nurse. These results were adjusted for age, presence of invaded axillary lymph nodes, adjuvant radiotherapy, and adjuvant systemic therapy (hormone or chemotherapy).
Conclusion: These results support the view that social support may be associated with longer survival among women with localized or regional stage breast cancer.