INDIANAPOLIS – A new study looked at how social determinants like where you live, if you’re married, or if you have insurance, can be associated with liver cancer mortality.

The study included 3,000 cancer patients right here in Indiana. As expected, doctors say ethnicity, gender and insurance type did play a role on cancer survival.

“We’re really trying to figure out how we can help these particular populations in Indiana,” said Dr. Lauren Nephew, a gastroenterologist at IU Health.

The study showed marital status also played a big role.

One of the authors of the study, Dr. Nephew at IU Health, shared because cancer patients are having to understand and handle so much – a support system is vital.

“So it’s good to have someone not even just for getting to appointments, but to help absorb the large amounts of information, to help at home, and just being someone to help navigate this very complex cancer care process.”

Dr. Nephew stresses that support can look different for everyone.

It doesn’t have to be a spouse, just someone, or a group can be a cost-effective way of prolonging a fight with cancer.

“Where you live impacts your outcome so strongly. Not only having social support and insurance, we kind of expect that finding, but where you live is an independent risk factor. This was something that was unexpected and living in a neighborhood where there’s deprivation was something that was associated with death. So, we really want to target that specific population.”

The plan is to take these findings and develop interventions. That way doctors can target these populations of patients nd direct them to support groups if needed or connect them to resources to cover these social determinants.

The overall goal is to identify patients with the highest risk and help them in their battle with cancer.

You can look at the study here.