Partner status and survival after cancer: a competing risks analysis

Dasgupta, Paramita, Turrell, Gavin, Aitken, Joanne F. and Baade, Peter D. (2016) Partner status and survival after cancer: a competing risks analysis. Cancer Epidemiology, 41 16-23. doi:10.1016/j.canep.2015.12.009

Author Dasgupta, Paramita
Turrell, Gavin
Aitken, Joanne F.
Baade, Peter D.
Title Partner status and survival after cancer: a competing risks analysis
Journal name Cancer Epidemiology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1877-783X
Publication date 2016-04-01
Year available 2016
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.canep.2015.12.009
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Volume 41
Start page 16
End page 23
Total pages 8
Place of publication New York, NY United States
Publisher Elsevier
Language eng
Formatted abstract

The survival benefits of having a partner for all cancers combined is well recognized, however its prognostic importance for individual cancer types, including competing mortality causes, is less clear. This study was undertaken to quantify the impact of partner status on survival due to cancer-specific and competing mortality causes.


Data were obtained from the population-based Queensland Cancer Registry on 176,050 incident cases of ten leading cancers diagnosed in Queensland (Australia) from 1996 to 2012. Flexible parametric competing-risks models were used to estimate cause-specific hazards and cumulative probabilities of death, adjusting for age, stage (breast, colorectal and melanoma only) and stratifying by sex.


Both unpartnered males and females had higher total cumulative probability of death than their partnered counterparts for each site. For example, the survival disadvantage for unpartnered males ranged from 3% to 30% with higher mortality burden from both the primary cancer and competing mortality causes. The cause-specific age-adjusted hazard ratios were also consistent with patients without a partner having increased mortality risk although the specific effect varied by site, sex and cause of death. For all combined sites, unpartnered males had a 46%, 18% and 44% higher risk of cancer-specific, other cancer and non-cancer mortality respectively with similar patterns for females. The higher mortality risk persisted after adjustment for stage.


It is important to better understand the mechanisms by which having a partner is beneficial following a cancer diagnosis, so that this can inform improvements in cancer management for all people with cancer.
Keyword Cancer
Partner status
Competing risks
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
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