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Is social support associated with improved clinical outcomes in geriatric lung cancer patients? Observations from North Central Cancer Treatment Group Studies N9921 and N0222

Authors Jatoi A, Hillman SL, Ziegler KLA, Stella PJ, Soori GS, Rowland Jr KM

Published 17 June 2009 Volume 2009:1 Pages 61—68


Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 4

Aminah Jatoi1, Shauna L Hillman1, Katie L Allen Ziegler1, Philip J Stella2, Gamini S Soori3, Kendrith M Rowland Jr4

1Mayo Clinic and Mayo Foundation, Rochester, MN, USA; 2Michigan Cancer Research Consortium, Ann Arbor, MI, USA; 3Missouri Valley Cancer Consortium, Omaha, NE, USA; 4Carle Cancer Center CCOP, Urbana, IL, USA

Background: Social support is defined as a network of family/friends who provide practical and emotional help. A sizable literature describes a direct relationship between social support and improved cancer clinical outcomes. This study explored the extent of social support and its potential association with survival and adverse events in geriatric lung cancer patients.

Methods: One hundred thirteen patients, who were aged 65 years or older, had incurable cancer, and were enrolled in one of two chemotherapy trials, completed the Lubben Social Network Scale, a validated instrument that measures social support. All were followed for survival and chemotherapy-related adverse events.

Results: The median age (range) of the cohort was 74 years (65–91), and performance scores of 0, 1, or 2 were observed in 29%, 55%, and 16%, respectively. Forty-two percent were women. This cohort had a high level of social support: 81% reported they “always” had someone to take them to medical appointments. However, there were no gender-based differences in social support and no associations between social support and either survival or adverse events.

Conclusion: In this cohort of geriatric lung cancer patients – all of whom were treated during a clinical trial – there was a high level of social support. However, there were no gender-based differences in extent of social support, and the latter did not predict clinical outcomes.

Keywords: social support, lung cancer, elderly, adverse events, survival

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