Nightly News   |  September 23, 2013

Marriage and its impact on cancer survival

There’s encouraging news about a surprising key to surviving cancer – being married, or having a really good friend by your side – is important for patients’ health. NBC’s Rehema Ellis reports.

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>>> our health news tonight is about the fight against cancer and a big new study that serves as confirmation for what a lot of folks have known themselves in their own household for a long time. being married and having your spouse as your partner and caregiver right there in the fight can drastically improve your odds of survival as much as medicine itself. our t report tonight from nbc's rehema ellis.

>> reporter: sue stone, a wife and mother of 12-year-old twins is a breast cancer survivor who is certain her husband's support helped save her life.

>> you're just overwhelmed. it's good to have someone as your advocate to ask the questions and find out and keep things clear.

>> we tried to encourage each other and do it as a team, as a family.

>> reporter: they're not alone. in a study published today, harvard researchers analyzed more than 700,000 patient records. across the ten leading causes of cancer deaths in the united states . they found married patients were 53% more likely to receive appropriate treatment and 20% more likely to survive cancer . the survival benefit for men was almost 50% greater than it was for women.

>> you can see a single man perhaps being not as willing to let people into his life and bring people with him to the doctor and accept support from people.

>> reporter: at a fund-raiser for cancer support --

>> for my dad.

>> mash out cancer .

>> team gambo!

>> reporter: tom survived testicular cancer and says his wife marge would not let him give up.

>> i don't know that i would have survived this long if it wasn't for her.

>> if you don't fight for anything, fight -- you know, fight for kids.

>> reporter: the study is encouraging news for everyone -- married or single.

>> if you have a friend or a loved one with cancer , you can make a difference in that person's outcome by going with them to their appointments snshs the stone family was at the mud race, too, sporting superhero costumes. living proof of the power of love in the fight against cancer . rehema ellis, nbc news, medford, new jersey.