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Marital status and prostate cancer incidence: a pooled analysis of 12 case–control studies from the PRACTICAL consortium


While being in a committed relationship is associated with a better prostate cancer prognosis, little is known about how marital status relates to its incidence. Social support provided by marriage/relationship could promote a healthy lifestyle and an increased healthcare seeking behavior. We investigated the association between marital status and prostate cancer risk using data from the PRACTICAL Consortium. Pooled analyses were conducted combining 12 case–control studies based on histologically-confirmed incident prostate cancers and controls with information on marital status prior to diagnosis/interview. Marital status was categorized as married/partner, separated/divorced, single, or widowed. Tumours with Gleason scores ≥ 8 defined high-grade cancers, and low-grade otherwise. NCI-SEER’s summary stages (local, regional, distant) indicated the extent of the cancer. Logistic regression was used to derive odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for the association between marital status and prostate cancer risk, adjusting for potential confounders. Overall, 14,760 cases and 12,019 controls contributed to analyses. Compared to men who were married/with a partner, widowed men had an OR of 1.19 (95% CI 1.03–1.35) of prostate cancer, with little difference between low- and high-grade tumours. Risk estimates among widowers were 1.14 (95% CI 0.97–1.34) for local, 1.53 (95% CI 1.22–1.92) for regional, and 1.56 (95% CI 1.05–2.32) for distant stage tumours. Single men had elevated risks of high-grade cancers. Our findings highlight elevated risks of incident prostate cancer among widowers, more often characterized by tumours that had spread beyond the prostate at the time of diagnosis. Social support interventions and closer medical follow-up in this sub-population are warranted.

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The data that support the findings of this study are available on request from the corresponding author. The data are not publicly available due to privacy and ethical restrictions.

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The PRACTICAL consortium. This work was supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, European Commission's Seventh Framework Programme Grant Agreement No. 223175 (HEALTH-F2-2009-223175), Cancer Research UK Grants C5047/A7357, C1287/A10118, C1287/A16563, C5047/A3354, C5047/A10692, C16913/A6135, and The National Institute of Health (NIH) Cancer Post-Cancer GWAS initiative Grant: No. 1 U19 CA 148537-01 (the GAME-ON initiative). We would also like to thank the following for funding support: The Institute of Cancer Research and The Everyman Campaign, The Prostate Cancer Research Foundation, Prostate Research Campaign UK (now PCUK), The Orchid Cancer Appeal, Rosetrees Trust, The National Cancer Research Network UK, The National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) UK. We are grateful for support of NIHR funding to the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre at The Institute of Cancer Research and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust. The Prostate Cancer Program of Cancer Council Victoria also acknowledge grant support from The National Health and Medical Research Council, Australia (126402, 209057, 251533, 396414, 450104, 504700, 504702, 504715, 623204, 940394, 614296), VicHealth, Cancer Council Victoria, The Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia, The Whitten Foundation, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Tattersall’s. EAO, DMK, and EMK acknowledge the Intramural Program of the National Human Genome Research Institute for their support. CS is the recipient of a doctoral fellowship from the Fonds de recherche du Québec - Santé. Additional funding and acknowledgments from individual studies in PRACTICAL are provided in supplementary materials.

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CS conducted the analysis and prepared the manuscript. MEP supervised the work, participated in the conception of the study, and reviewed the manuscript. All authors participated in the interpretation of data, and provided important intellectual contributions to the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Marie-Élise Parent.

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All individual studies were approved by local ethics committees and adhered to the principles of the Declaration of Helsinki.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Additional members from the PRACTICAL consortium are provided in the Supplementary Material. Information on the consortium can be found at

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Salmon, C., Song, L., Muir, K. et al. Marital status and prostate cancer incidence: a pooled analysis of 12 case–control studies from the PRACTICAL consortium. Eur J Epidemiol 36, 913–925 (2021).

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  • Marital status
  • Prostate cancer
  • Consortium
  • Pooled analysis
  • Meta-analysis