New study on how husband's cope with partner's breast cancer

September 27, 2010 3:10:15 PM PDT
More than 200,000 women every year are diagnosed with breast cancer. The diagnosis often affects the whole family, but up to now, little has been known about the direct effects on husbands and mates.

A new study now sheds light on that subject.

The large study which was done in Denmark showed something which was no surprise, that men frequently suffer adverse effects from their wives or partner's diagnosis. Experts say, it's something that needs attention.

Gregory Smith's family life has been touched by cancer. His wife Jackie. mother of their two sons was diagnosed earlier this year.

Jackie was away in treatment when Eyewitness News visited him.

Understandably, Gregory has been deeply affected.

Like many men in his situation, Gregory focused on his wife's health and on his sons.

But on his own state is not something he thought about.

Experts say each man will react differently to this challenge, but today's study found that the diagnosis of breast cancer in a woman can indeed take a big toll on her partner. When compared to the general population, the study found that men partners had an almost 40 percent increased rate of depression and mood disorders severe enough to require hospitalization.

While the total percentage was small, experts says other studies show men can benefit from this awareness.

"Our job as health care professionals is to recognize who is struggling and who isn't, and to help those who are struggling," said Dr. Tom Smith of Virginia Commonwealth University.

The study points out depression is very common not only in patients but in their partners and it's our job to recognize that and refer those patients on to treatment.

Experts say that men are not generally comfortable in not appearing "strong" so they are more likely to hide their anguish. Gregory and Jackie Smith are already working with the American Cancer Society to help other patients.

Today's study was published in the Journal Cancer.

LINK: American Cancer Society program OR CALL 1-800-227-2345.