Similar benefit has been seen in other cancers, including those of the prostate, and head and neck, the independent reported.
A study of 168 patients with advanced lung cancer who were treated with chemotherapy and radiation over a decade from 2000 to 2010 found a third of those who were married were still alive after three years compared with 10 per cent of those who were single.
Previous research has shown marriage benefits men more than women, but among these survivors it was women who fared best. Almost half (46 per cent) lived for at least three years if they were married, compared with just 3 per cent of single men.
Cancer patients need support with daily activities, with proper follow up care and help travelling to and from hospital for appointments.
The researchers from the University of Maryland said this was the likely explanation of why married patients did better.
“Marital status appears to be an important independent predictor of survival in patients with locally advanced non-small cell lung cancer. The reason for this is unclear, but our findings suggest the importance of social support in managing and treating our lung cancer patients,” the paper quoted Elizabeth Nichols, a radiation oncology who led the study, as saying.
“We believe that better supportive care and support mechanisms for cancer patients can have a greater impact on increasing survival than many new cancer therapy techniques.
“Not only do we need to continue to focus on finding new drugs and cancer therapies, but also on ways to better support our cancer patients,” she added.
The researchers presented their findings at the 2012 Symposium on Thoracic Oncology in Chicago.