Good social networks improve breast cancer prognosis

A study published today in Cancer, the journal of the American Cancer Society, reports that breast cancer is less likely to recur among women who have a good social network than in those who are more socially isolated.

women breast cancer

(c) mangostock /

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide and the second most common cancer overall. Around 12% of all new cancer cases affect the breast. In countries with programmes to allow early detection of breast cancer, survival rates are good.

The 5-year survival rate for women diagnosed with early breast cancer in North America is in excess of 90%. However, this is an average estimate and there are a variety of factors other than the cancer itself that affect cancer outcomes in a particular individual.

Researchers at the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, California analysed information from 9267 women with breast cancer to investigate how the social status of a women during the 2 years after being diagnosed with breast cancer may affect their chances of survival.

They found that rates of cancer recurrence and mortality were higher among women who were more socially isolated than among those with larger social networks. However, not all types of social interactions were associated with better outcomes and some were only beneficial in specific subsets of women.

Among the women studied, there were 1448 cancer recurrences and 1521 deaths (990 from breast cancer). The median duration of follow-up was 10.6 years.

Women who were socially isolated had a 40% higher risk of recurrence and a 60% higher risk of dying from breast cancer than socially integrated women. Their overall risk of dying (any cause) was also 70% higher.

The extent of the effect on outcomes differed according to the type of social ties a woman had and her ethnic background. For example, non-White women had lower breast cancer–specific mortality if they had strong ties with family and friends, whereas the risk of breast cancer-specific mortality in older White women was lower if they had a spouse.

These findings, from a large pooled cohort of nearly 10,000 women with breast cancer, confirm the generally beneficial influence of women's social ties on breast cancer recurrence and mortality; however, they also point to complexity, that not all social ties are beneficial, and not in all women.”

Lead researcher, Dr Candyce Kroenke

It may therefore be important for clinicians to gain an insight into the sociodemography of a breast cancer survivor when considering their prognosis. Additional research is needed to understand how social networks influence outcomes. Once indentified, such mechanisms may be used as the basis for new interventions for improving prognosis in breast cancer.


Kate Bass

Written by

Kate Bass

Kate graduated from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne with a biochemistry B.Sc. degree. She also has a natural flair for writing and enthusiasm for scientific communication, which made medical writing an obvious career choice. In her spare time, Kate enjoys walking in the hills with friends and travelling to learn more about different cultures around the world.


Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

  • APA

    Bass, Kate. (2018, August 23). Good social networks improve breast cancer prognosis. News-Medical. Retrieved on June 16, 2024 from

  • MLA

    Bass, Kate. "Good social networks improve breast cancer prognosis". News-Medical. 16 June 2024. <>.

  • Chicago

    Bass, Kate. "Good social networks improve breast cancer prognosis". News-Medical. (accessed June 16, 2024).

  • Harvard

    Bass, Kate. 2018. Good social networks improve breast cancer prognosis. News-Medical, viewed 16 June 2024,


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
Post a new comment

While we only use edited and approved content for Azthena answers, it may on occasions provide incorrect responses. Please confirm any data provided with the related suppliers or authors. We do not provide medical advice, if you search for medical information you must always consult a medical professional before acting on any information provided.

Your questions, but not your email details will be shared with OpenAI and retained for 30 days in accordance with their privacy principles.

Please do not ask questions that use sensitive or confidential information.

Read the full Terms & Conditions.

You might also like...
AI-powered liquid biopsy shows promise in early detection of lung cancer