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The diagnosis of cancer affects not only the lives of patients, but also the lives of their family members. The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of oral cancer on quality of life (QoL), psychological distress and marital satisfaction in a sample of patients and their wives. Thirty-one men treated for oral cancer (mean time since diagnosis 3.7 years) and their female partners (n = 31) were assessed by questionnaires with regard to QoL (WHOQOL-BREF), anxiety and depression (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, HADS), quality of relationship (Dyadic Adjustment Scale, DAS) and physical complaints (EORTC QOL-H&N35). Quality of life was remarkably high in patients and their partners. In patients, lower QoL was associated with more physical complaints and higher levels of psychological distress (HADS), whereas in wives, QoL was found to be related to marital quality (DAS) and levels of distress. In couples with highly discrepant ratings of marital satisfaction, wives reported more psychological distress. The findings indicate that overall QoL is considerably high in patients treated for oral cancer and their partners living in stable relationships. Quality of life correlates stronger with the quality of relationship in spouses than in patients. Generally, marital satisfaction appears to be an important moderating factor regarding QoL and psychological distress.