Posts Tagged ‘psychological functioning’

Shorter Head and Neck Cancer Patient's Survival Associated with Stress and Depression

Friday, May 6th, 2011

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In a study presented at the 32nd Annual Meeting and Scientific Sessions of the Society of Behavioral Medicine last month, researchers found an association between survival in early stage cancer patients and psychosocial function. Following upon research that shows that stress can affect the immune system and weaken the cancer patient’s defenses and also affect the tumors ability to grow and spread the researchers found that poor psychological functioning was associated with greater vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) expression. This signaling protein stimulates tumor growth and is associated with shorter disease-free survival in head and neck cancer patients.

In their study, 37 newly diagnosed, pre-surgical head and neck cancer patients were evaluated to see if psychological functioning (perceived stress, social support and depression) was associated with VEGF. Subjects were mostly male (70.3%). average of 57 years of age, and with a primary tumor site in the oral cavity (65.9%), larynx (19.9%). and oropharynx (13.5%), and early-stage disease (over 40%).
Subjects were given a psychological questionaire prior to treatment that measured psychological functioning. In addition, VEGF expression in tumor tissue was obtained during surgery and evaluated using a process that helps detect the presence of specific proteins. Results showed that higher levels of perceived stress and depression symptoms were associated with greater VEGF expression in the tumor tissue of these patients and the association between psychological functioning and VEGF were stronger among early-stage subjects. Researchers concluded that “In patients with advanced cancers, psychosocial interventions may have less of an impact since these cancers are inherently more aggressive.”
More research is planned.