Stress, Immunity, and Breast Cancer Patients

Breast cancer patients after surgery often have higher levels of distress and need psychosocial adaptation to the new conditions. The problems of distress among these patients have been related to cellular immune dysfunctions with the negative impacts on the recovery of the disease (Blomberg et al., 2009).

A study assessed the relationships between psychological adaptation indicators including mood and overall quality of life (QOL), and the cytokine levels of T-helper cell type 1 (Th1) from peripheral mononuclear cells (Blomberg et al., 2009). The study was done among the breast cancer patients after surgery but without adjuvant therapy.

The study found that decreased levels of anxiety were associated with higher levels of the Th1 cytokine interleukin-2 (IL-2) (Blomberg et al., 2009). In addition, higher levels of positive mood were associated with higher levels of the Th1 cytokines IL-12 and interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma). Better QOL was associated with higher levels of the Th1 cytokine tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha).

The study revealed that breast cancer patients after surgery may have individual variances in psychosocial adaptation associated with immunological variables (Blomberg et al., 2009). More investigations are still needed to understand these differences, connections and the relevant pathways.


Blomberg BB, Alvarez JP, Diaz A, Romero MG, Lechner SC, Carver CS, Holley H, Antoni MH. Psychosocial adaptation and cellular immunity in breast cancer patients in the weeks after surgery: An exploratory study. J Psychosom Res. 2009 Nov;67(5):369-76. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2009.05.016.

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