Barcelona, Spain: In the largest and most rigorous study to date investigating how cancer influences divorce, Norwegian researchers have found that marriages are no more likely than normal to break down unless a spouse develops cervical or testicular cancer.
In fact, the study, presented today (Thursday 27 September) at the European Cancer Conference (ECCO 14) in Barcelona, found most types of cancer resulted in a slight decrease in the divorce rate in the first few years following the diagnosis.
The research, which compared the divorce rates of 215,000 cancer survivors with those among couples with no cancer over a period of about 17 years, revealed that women who developed cervical cancer were 40 percent more likely than normal to get divorced and testicular cancer survivors were 20 percent more likely to get divorced than similar men without cancer.
The findings also confirmed earlier studies debunking the myth that husbands may be more likely to abandon their wives after breast cancer. Breast cancer survivors saw an eight percent decrease in their divorce risk compared to similar women without the disease.
Mrs Astri Syse, a researcher at the Norwegian Cancer Registry in Oslo, Norway, who led the study, said several factors might explain why divorce risk increased only with cervical and testicular cancer.
The two cancers affect intimacy, resulting in decreases in sexual desire, enjoyment and fertility. However, the studys results were adjusted to take into account any influence of fertility and both cancers tend to be detected early in Norway, resulting in minimal impact from sexually debilitating treatments, Syse noted.
Perhaps the most relevant factor, Syse proposed, is that cervical and testicular cancers mostly affect younger people.
We suggest that younger age is a stronger predictor than alterations in sexual function, Syse said. It is also possible that sexual problems or a weakening of
|Contact: Emma Ross|
ECCO-the European CanCer Conference