Lesley Fallowfield, a professor of psycho-oncology at Sussex University, said that because sex is a particularly important way for young couples to cement their relationship, a cancer diagnosis that affects a couple's sex life might be very damaging.

'Certain cancers mean more divorces'

27 Sep 2007, 1357 hrs IST , AP
People who develop cervical or testicular cancer may face another harsh reality: they are more likely to get divorced, a new study says.

Women with cervical cancer had a 40 per cent higher chance of getting divorced than other women.

In research presented on Thursday at a meeting of the European Cancer Organisation, Norwegian experts found that women with cervical cancer had a 40 per cent higher chance of getting divorced than other women.

Men with testicular cancer were 20 per cent more likely to get divorced than similar men without cancer. Both types of cancer are curable and mainly affect young people.
"Sex could have something to do with this," said Lesley Fallowfield, a professor of psycho-oncology at Sussex University who was not connected to the study. "If men and women with cervical or testicular cancer aren't having sex with their partners, that may be a problem."

For nearly two decades, the study looked at 2.8 million people in Norway, comparing the divorce rates of 215,000 cancer survivors to those in couples with no cancer.
Shortcoming of the study:
They did not ask couples about the reasons for the divorces, but only looked at marriage and divorce registration data.
"It seems to be worse for your marriage to get cancer early," said Astri Syse, an epidemiologist at the Norwegian Cancer Registry who led the study. But Syse said that it was only cervical and testicular cancer that produced a spike in divorces. Other types of cancer did not result in more divorces.
7 out of 10 women DO NOT LEAVE their husbands though they have cancer of testis at age 20 years

7 out of 10 men leave their wives who have cancer of the lower part of womb at 20 years age

Age 20 years with Cervical Cancer in Women 69 %
Age 20 years with Testicular Cancer in Men 34 %

Normal husbands in Norway who divorce even at 60 year age 16 %

(Little less than women)

Normal wives divorce even at 60 years 19 %

Age also helped. At age 20, women were 69 per cent more likely to get divorced if they had cervical cancer. But by age 60, that risk dropped to 19 per cent. The same trend was seen in men with testicular cancer. At 20, men with testicular cancer had an increased divorce risk of 34 per cent. That fell to 16 per cent for men aged 60.

Experts thought that the break-ups could be due both to the cancers, and to the youth of the couples involved. Older couples might be more committed to each other and less likely to get divorced even when faced with a life-threatening disease.

Fallowfield said that couples affected by cancer early on in their marriage might be more likely to divorce if they had not yet had children, or if the illness caused financial hardship.


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