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A study showing the impact of psychological stress on cancer treatment - 07/25/2022

A study showing the impact of psychological stress on cancer treatment – 07/25/2022

The advances brought by scientific research allow us to improve treatments for different types of tumors, not only with more efficient clinical outcomes, but with fewer side effects and negative impacts on the patient’s daily life.

In June, during the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Chinese researchers presented a study that sought to track the relationship between psychological stress, quality of life, and the effectiveness of immunotherapy in Lung Cancereither locally advanced or diffuse.

The basic premise for conducting the analysis is that, theoretically, stress, whether due to depression or anxiety, activates the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis as well as the sympathetic nervous system. This activation, in addition to increasing the production of stress hormones, has immunosuppressive properties, that is, it reduces the activity of the immune system.

This study evaluated 77 patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer, using the Depression and Anxiety Questionnaire, and compared patients with these conditions versus those who did not. The aim was to analyze some correlation in terms of prognosis.

The result showed that psychological stress, whether due to anxiety or depression or both, was clearly associated with a decline in quality of life. In addition, the response rate to treatment was lower – 35% for those experiencing stress versus 63% for those who did not; Survival without progression was also lower in this psychologically distressed group.

In a progression-free survival analysis, patients with stress — depression or anxiety — had a 2.7 times worse risk of developing a worse outcome than those not diagnosed with psychiatric changes. In those patients with psychological stress, cortisol levels increased compared to those without the condition.

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With these findings, the study gives an important indication: By increasing cortisol levels and also adrenaline levels, patients with anxiety or depression, in addition to poor quality of life, may have a worse prognosis on treatment. Because of its immunosuppressive effect.

This fact illustrates the importance of treating these symptoms from the start of treatment, reinforcing the importance of assessment and multidisciplinary team work in symptom management, not only to ensure quality of life, but also for the better development of these patients.