Sign In

News Story

New research shows US adults living alone at higher risk for cancer mortality

ACS scientists stress need for interventions to reduce adverse effects of living alone and social isolation.

In new findings from a large, nationally representative study led by researchers at the American Cancer Society, adults living alone in the United States were at a higher risk of cancer mortality in several sociodemographic groups, compared to adults living with others. The findings are published in the journal Cancer.

“Previous studies have shown an association between living alone and cancer mortality, but findings by sex and race/ethnicity have generally been inconsistent, and data by socioeconomic status are sparse,” said Dr. Hyunjung Lee, principal scientist, cancer disparity research at the American Cancer Society and lead author of the study. “Findings in this study underscore the significance of addressing living alone in the general population and among cancer survivors and call for interventions to reduce adverse effects of living alone and social isolation.”

“These results reflect the need for more resources and appropriate training for clinicians, integrated screening for living alone and social isolation, and more research to identify and implement interventions that could reduce adverse effects of living alone and social isolation,” added Lee. “Some examples include patient navigation programs for this population to increase uptake of and adherence to cancer screening, timely diagnosis, treatment, and attendance of medical appointments, and the inclusion of this group among high priority groups for services based on screenings for the health-related social needs.”

ACS’ advocacy affiliate, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), supports extending the reach of patient navigation services to every person who is diagnosed with cancer, which requires sustainable funding. In a separate Survivor Views survey conducted by ACS CAN over the summer, more than half of cancer patients and survivors reported experiencing greater isolation as a result of their cancer diagnosis and treatment.

“Investing in patient navigation services is critical to helping ensure a better treatment experience and better health outcomes,” said Lisa A. Lacasse, president of ACS CAN. “Funding patient navigation services can also improve health equity by increasing access to quality cancer care in communities that have been historically under-resourced.”

Other ACS authors include Dr. Farhad Islami, senior author of the paper, and Dr. Ahmedin Jemal.

Dr. Islami spoke with CNN about the news. Also, you can like and share the news on X (Twitter).

back to top