Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Stress and depression are associated with shorter survival in head and neck cancer patients

Date:
April 29, 2011
Source:
Fox Chase Cancer Center
Summary:
Studies have shown that stress can affect the immune system. In cancer patients this stress can also affect a tumor's ability to grow. However, the biological mechanisms that underlie such associations are not well understood. Now, researchers find that poor psychosocial functioning is associated with greater vascular endothelial growth factor expression -- a signaling protein that stimulates tumor growth and is also associated with shorter disease-free survival in head and neck cancer patients.

Studies have shown that stress can affect the immune system and weaken the body's defense against infection and disease. In cancer patients this stress can also affect a tumor's ability to grow and spread. However, the biological mechanisms that underlie such associations are not well understood. Now, researchers at Fox Chase Cancer Center find that poor psychosocial functioning is associated with greater vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) expression--a signaling protein that not only stimulates tumor growth, but is also associated with shorter disease-free survival in head and neck cancer patients.

"There is research showing that high VEGF expression in other cancers, such as ovarian, is associated with psychosocial factors," says Carolyn Fang, Ph.D., Co-Leader of the Cancer Prevention and Control Program at Fox Chase, who will be presenting the study at the 32nd Annual Meeting & Scientific Sessions of the Society of Behavioral Medicine on April 28th. "This information coupled with what we already know about VEGF promoting tumor aggressiveness and poorer prognosis in head and neck cancer patients, certainly gave us a reason to look at this biomarker."

VEGF not only plays a pivotal role in angiogenesis, but it is also regulated by stress hormones and key cytokines--a category of signaling molecules used extensively in intercellular communication.

In the current study, Fang and colleagues looked at 37 newly diagnosed, pre-surgical head and neck cancer patients, to see if psychosocial functioning, such as perceived stress and depressive factors, was associated with VEGF, a biological pathway relating to patient outcomes. The patients were predominantly male (70.3%), and approximately 57-years-old, with primary tumor sites of the oral cavity (65.9%), larynx (19.9%), and oropharynx (13.5%). Over 40% of them were classified as having early-stage disease.

Each patient was given a psychosocial questionnaire to complete prior to treatment, which required them to answer questions about social support, depression, and perceived stress. In addition, VEGF expression in tumor tissue obtained during surgery was evaluated using immunohistochemistry--a process that helps detect the presence of specific proteins in cells or tissues.

"Our analysis indicated that higher levels of perceived stress and depressive symptoms were associated with greater VEGF expression in the tumor tissue of these patients" says Fang. Greater VEGF expression was, in turn, associated with shorter disease-free survival among patients.

The associations between psychosocial functioning and VEGF were strong among early-stage patients, but were less apparent among late-stage patients.

"It's possible that in early stage disease, psychosocial stress makes patients more susceptible to cancer-related death, while in patients with advanced disease, other factors become more important in determining outcome," says Miriam N. Lango, M.D., Medical Director of Speech Pathology Service and Attending Surgeon in Head and Neck Oncology at Fox Chase. "In patients with advanced cancers, psychosocial interventions may have less of an impact since these cancers are inherently more aggressive."

In the near-term, Fang and her colleagues hope to expand the study to look at a larger sample of patients and to incorporate other signaling pathways that are relevant to cancer, like EGFR, which researchers involved in Fox Chase's Keystone Program in Head and Neck Cancer are already exploring.

"The next step is to conduct a longitudinal study that would allow us to examine patient psychosocial functioning in conjunction with biomarkers of disease aggressiveness and survival from pre-treatment through post-treatment and beyond, which would give us a more complete picture of how these factors may contribute to patient outcomes," Carolyn adds.

Co-authors on the study include John A. Ridge, M.D., Ph.D., Miriam N. Lango, M.D., Barbara A. Burtness, M.D., Brian L. Egleston, Ph.D., Margaret Einarson, Ph.D., and Andres Klein-Szanto, M.D., Ph.D., of Fox Chase.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Fox Chase Cancer Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Fox Chase Cancer Center. "Stress and depression are associated with shorter survival in head and neck cancer patients." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 April 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110428143147.htm>.
Fox Chase Cancer Center. (2011, April 29). Stress and depression are associated with shorter survival in head and neck cancer patients. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110428143147.htm
Fox Chase Cancer Center. "Stress and depression are associated with shorter survival in head and neck cancer patients." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110428143147.htm (accessed April 23, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Big Pharma Braces for M&A Wave

Big Pharma Braces for M&A Wave

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 22, 2014) Big pharma on the move as Novartis boss, Joe Jimenez, tells Reuters about plans to transform his company via an asset exchange with GSK, and Astra Zeneca shares surge on speculation that Pfizer is looking for a takeover. Joanna Partridge reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Study Says Most Crime Not Linked To Mental Illness

Study Says Most Crime Not Linked To Mental Illness

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) A new study finds most crimes committed by people with mental illness are not caused by symptoms of their illness or disorder. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hagel Gets Preview of New High-Tech Projects

Hagel Gets Preview of New High-Tech Projects

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is given hands-on demonstrations Tuesday of some of the newest research from DARPA _ the military's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency program. (April 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) NBC's "Today" conducted an experiment to see if changing the size of plates and utensils affects the amount individuals eat. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins