Study tracks 5-year trajectories of stress, depression and immunity in cancer survivors
The disease course that cancer follows during the five years after diagnosis is well known for every cancer site. But similar five-year trajectories are not known for psychological, behavioral and immune responses to cancer.
A study led by researchers at the OSUCCC – James has addressed this gap. The researchers evaluated 113 women who were surgically treated for breast cancer. The study followed the women for five years, beginning just after surgery. The women self-reported measures of stress and depression, and they provided blood for immune assays (natural killer cell cytotoxicity [NKCC] and T-cell blastogenesis). The assays were repeated every four to six months for five years.
The study was led by OSUCCC – James researchers Barbara L. Andersen, PhD, professor of Psychology, and William E. Carson III, MD, professor of Surgical Oncology and associate director for clinical research at the OSUCCC – James.
The results showed that, for the average individual, psychological and innate immunity markers generally follow a pattern of recovery for the first 18 months, with depression and NKCC remaining stable, and stress showing continued improvement through year five. No reliable trajectory was found for T-cell blastogenesis.
“This study is the first to track trajectories of change in biobehaviors and immune markers for breast cancer survivors for a five-year period.
“We believe our findings have clinical relevance for guiding the timing and substance of survivorship care,” Andersen says. “They also underscore the importance of screening patients at the time of diagnosis for symptoms of anxiety and depression.”
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