Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Cancer Stresses Patients' Spouses, Too

When Prostate Cancer Strikes a Husband, His Wife May Be Equally Distressed
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Sept. 21, 2007 -- Cancer takes an emotional toll on both partners in a marriage, not just the spouse who is the patient, a new study shows.

That may sound like common sense -- what affects one spouse affects another.

However, the depths of distress seen in the study suggest that spouses often need more help than they get in coping with their partner's cancer.

The report by the University of Michigan's Laurel Northouse, PhD, and colleagues focuses specifically on prostate cancer.

"Doctors, nurses, and even family and friends often focus mainly on the patient who has cancer and don't realize the illness has enormous ramifications on the family, especially the spouse," Northouse says in a news release.

Northouse's advice: Patients and their spouses should "work as a team together to deal with the illness."

Patients, Wives Both Affected

At the heart of the study were 263 prostate cancer patients and their wives. They completed questionnaires about their quality of life.

The stage of the husbands' prostate cancer was a major influence on quality of life.

Quality-of-life ratings were highest for the 170 men newly diagnosed with prostate cancer and their wives, followed by the 33 men with recurrent prostate cancer and their wives. Quality-of-life ratings were lowest for the 60 men with advanced prostate cancer and their wives.

But there was more to it than that.

The patients' wives were as distressed as their spouses about prostate cancer. The wives also reported less social support and less confidence in their ability to manage prostate cancer, compared with the patients themselves.

The researchers call for new programs to help the wives of prostate cancer patients.

The findings appear in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Today on WebMD

Colorectal cancer cells
New! I AM Not Cancer Facebook Group
Lung cancer xray
See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
Ovarian cancer illustration
Real Cancer Perspectives
Jennifer Goodman Linn self-portrait
what is your cancer risk
colorectal cancer treatment advances
breast cancer overview slideshow
prostate cancer overview
lung cancer overview slideshow
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
Actor Michael Douglas