Couples affected by cancer are more likely to break up, according to new research

Researchers working on behalf of the Dutch newspaper, de Volkskrant, have revealed that relationship problems are higher amongst cancer patients.

During its research the newspaper conducted interviews with a number of Dutch health professionals to see how wide-spread the problem was among couples, where one partner was undergoing treatment.

Psychiatrist, Leo van Weezel of the Antoni van Leeuwenhoek hospital in Amsterdam, said: “Cancer can turn patients into extremely unpleasant, difficult partners.

“The idea that cancer brings a couple closer together is a romanticised idea. This assumption makes people feel even lonelier; they feel they’re not fulfilling expectations.”

This latest Dutch study is supported by work from US researcher, Dr Marc Chamberlain, head of the neuro-oncology division at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle, who recently showed that women who fall seriously ill were far more likely to see their husband leave the relationship, rather than the other way round.

In cases where the husband became seriously ill, divorce rates were actually far lower than the average at just three per cent.

But in comparison a staggering 21 per cent of wives diagnosed with serious illness ended up separated or divorced within the same time frame

His research also found that in 90 per cent of post-diagnosis divorce cases, the wife was the sick party.

In the UK around 910 people are diagnosed with cancer every day, a figure which looks set to rise in the future.

It means that there are potentially thousands of people out there coping with the effects of a diagnosis on their relationship and whereas once they could have relied upon the Cancer Counselling Trust for free relationship counselling – which has since been cancelled due to financial hardship –  they are now faced with an uncertain future.