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J Clin Oncol. 2009 Oct 1;27(28):4781-6. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2008.21.6788. Epub 2009 Aug 31.

Influence on the health of the partner affected by tumor disease in the wife or husband based on a population-based register study of cancer in Sweden.

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  • 1Department of Oncology, Institute of Clinical Sciences, Lund University, Lund, Sweden.



To examine health care use and health care costs among partners of persons with cancer.


Partners of patients with colon, rectal, lung, breast, and prostate cancer (N = 11,076) were identified via linked data from the Tumor Registry of Southern Sweden and Census Registry of Sweden. Health care use, total costs of health care, and diagnosis of the partner were studied before and after diagnosis of the cancer patient.


Health care use for partners increased in terms of in-patient care after the cancer diagnosis. A significant increase was seen the second year for partners of patients with colon cancer (risk ratio [RR], 1.55; 95% CI, 1.28 to 1.87) and lung cancer (RR, 1.50; 95% CI, 1.26 to 1.79). Psychiatric diagnoses increased after the cancer diagnosis in the total sample, with a significant increase for partners of colon (RR, 2.66; 95% CI, 1.71 to 4.22), lung (RR, 3.16; 95% CI, 2.23 to 4.57), and prostate cancer patients (RR, 1.68; 95% CI, 1.32 to 2.15). Costs of care increased more than the consumer price index the two years after the cancer diagnosis. Costs of care increased most for male partners and especially for younger male partners (age 25 to 64 years) of patients with colon, rectal, and lung cancers.


The results showed increased health care costs and an increase in psychiatric diagnoses after the cancer diagnosis among partners of cancer patients. Further research is needed to learn more about the situation of the partner and to identify persons at risk of psychiatric morbidity. Knowledge is also needed on how to support the partner in the most efficient way.

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