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Home > Understanding Breast Cancer > Breast Cancer Research > Table 53: Social support and breast cancer survival

  


Table 53: Social support and breast cancer survival

This summary table contains detailed information about research studies. Summary tables offer an informative look at the science behind many breast cancer guidelines and recommendations. However, they should be viewed with some caution. In order to read and interpret research tables successfully, it is important to understand some key concepts. Learn how to read a research table.

Introduction: People get social support through interactions with other people, including family members, friends, neighbors, spiritual advisors and health care providers, called co-survivors. There is growing evidence from prospective cohort studies that social support increases quality of life after breast cancer. However, it remains unclear whether it improves survival.

Randomized controlled trials do not show a survival benefit from support groups for breast cancer survivors (see Table 52). However, the large prospective cohort studies below suggest that survivors with more social support have better survival.

The differences in results may be due to the types of social support studied. Cohort studies have mostly studied the social support people get from existing social networks, such as friends and family. In contrast, randomized trials have mostly studied social support from strangers, such as cancer survivor support groups. Further studies are needed to know whether there is a difference between these two kinds of social support and breast cancer survival.

Study selection criteria: Prospective cohort studies with at least 60 participants.

Study 

Study Population
(number of participants) 

Follow-up
(years)
 

Better Survival in Breast Cancer Survivors with the Most Social Support Compared to Those with the Least?
 

Yes / No 

Prospective cohort studies 

Kroenke et al. [1]

2,835

6

Yes

Kroenke et al. [2]

 2,264

10.8

Yes*

Epplein et al. [3]

2,230

4.8

Yes

Reynolds et al. [4]

1,011

5

Yes

Phillips et al. [5]

708

8.2

No

Chou et al. [6]

584

10.3

Yes

Maunsell et al. [7]

224

7

No

Waxler-Morrison et al. [8]

133

4

Yes

Lehto et al. [9]

102

9

No

Giraldi et al. [10]

95

6

No

Weihs et al. [11]

90

8-9

Yes

Cousson-Gélie et al. [12]

69

10

No

Osborne et al. [13]

61

6-8

No

* Findings showed survivors with higher levels of social support had lower rates of death due to any cause than survivors with lower levels of social support. Rates of death due to breast cancer were similar between the groups.

References 

  1. Kroenke CH, Kubzansky LD, Schernhammer ES, Holmes MD, Kawachi I. Social networks, social support, and survival after breast cancer diagnosis. J Clin Oncol. 24(7):1105-11, 2006.
  2. Kroenke CH, Quesenberry C, Kwan ML, Sweeney C, Castillo A, Caan BJ. Social networks, social support, and burden in relationships, and mortality after breast cancer diagnosis in the Life After Breast Cancer Epidemiology (LACE) Study. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 137(1):261-71, 2013.
  3. Epplein M, Zheng Y, Zheng W, et al. Quality of life after breast cancer diagnosis and survival. J Clin Oncol. 29(4):406-12, 2011.
  4. Reynolds P., Boyd PT, Blacklow RS, et al. The relationship between social ties and survival among black and white breast cancer patients. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 3: 253-259, 1994.
  5. Phillips KA, Osborne RH, Giles GG, et al. Psychosocial factors and survival of young women with breast cancer: a population-based prospective cohort study. J Clin Oncol. 26(28):4666-71, 2008.
  6. Chou AF, Stewart SL, Wild RC, Bloom JR. Social support and survival in young women with breast carcinoma. Psychooncology. 21(2):125-33, 2012.
  7. Maunsell E, Brisson J, Deschenes L. Social support and survival among women with breast cancer. Cancer. 76(4): 631-637, 1995.
  8. Waxler-Morrison N, Hislop TG, Mears B, et al. Effects of social relationships on survival for women with breast cancer: a prospective study. Soc Sci Med. 33(2):177-183, 1991.
  9. Lehto U-S, Ojanen M, Dyba T, Aromaa A, Kellokumpu-Lehtinen P. Baseline psychosocial predictors of survival in localised breast cancer. Br J Cancer. 94(9):1245-52, 2006.
  10. Giraldi T, Rodani MG, Cartei G, et al. Psychosocial factors and breast cancer: a 6-year Italian follow-up study. Psychother Psychosom. 66: 229-236, 1997.
  11. Weihs KL, Simmens SJ, Mizrahi J, Enright TM, Hunt ME, Siegel RS. Dependable social relationships predict overall survival in Stages II and III breast carcinoma patients. J Psychosom Res. 59(5):299-306, 2005.
  12. Cousson- Gélie F, Bruchon-Schweitzer M, Dilhuydy JM, Jutand MA. Do anxiety, body image, social support and coping strategies predict survival in breast cancer? A ten-year follow-up study. Psychosomatics. 48(3):211-6, 2007.
  13. Osborne RH, Sali A, Aaronson NK, Elsworth GR, Mdzewski B, Sinclair AJ. Immune function and adjustment style: do they predict survival in breast cancer? Psychooncology. 13(3):199-210, 2004.

Updated 03/12/13