Impact of gender on the association between marital status and head and neck cancer outcomes

Matthew C. Simpson, Sai D. Challapalli, Lauren M. Cass, Zisansha S. Zahirsha, Eric Adjei Boakye, Sean T. Massa, Nosayaba Osazuwa-Peters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Objectives: To determine whether the impact of marital status on head and neck cancer (HNC) outcomes vary by gender. Methods: The Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results 18 database from 2007 to 2014 was queried for eligible cases of HNC (n = 71,799). An interaction term (gender*marital status) was tested for each outcome of interest (cancer-specific survival, stage of presentation, adequate treatment), and when significant (p < 0.05), the model was stratified by gender. A competing risks proportional hazards (subdistribution [sd]) model estimated the interaction effect on cancer-specific survival. Logistic regression estimated effect on stage of presentation and treatment type. Results: There was significant gender*marital status interaction for cancer-specific survival and stage of presentation. While married/partnered patients had the highest survival among both genders, males benefitted more: widowed (male sdHR = 1.41, 95% CI 1.31, 1.52; female sdHR = 1.15, 95% CI 1.06, 1.26), divorced/separated (males: sdHR = 1.39, 95% CI 1.32, 1.46; females: sdHR = 1.17, 95% CI 1.06, 1.28), or never married (males: sdHR = 1.42, 95% CI 1.36, 1.49; females: sdHR = 1.15, 95% CI 1.05, 1.26). When stratified by oropharyngeal cancer vs. non-oropharyngeal HNC, unmarried males had 50–60% increased hazard of death, while no difference was found for females. Unmarried males also had greater odds of presenting with late-stage disease compared with females. No gender*marital status interaction was observed for adequate treatment, although married/partnered survivors had greater odds of receiving adequate treatment. Conclusions: While there are survival benefits for married patients with HNC, married/partnered males, especially those with oropharyngeal cancer, may benefit more than females.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48-55
Number of pages8
JournalOral Oncology
StatePublished - Feb 2019


  • Cancer survivorship
  • Cancer-specific survival
  • Gender
  • Head and neck cancer (HNC)
  • Marital status
  • SEER
  • Stage of presentation
  • Treatment type


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