Among women with advanced Ovarian cancer, those with more psychosocial support may fare better, US researchers suggest.
They found that women with a strong support system have lower levels of a pro-inflammatory compound, interleukin-6 (IL-6), in the blood. High levels of IL-6 have been linked to faster progression and shorter survival with this malignancy.
“It’s relatively unusual for cancer studies looking at psychosocial factors to also look at relationships in the tumor microenvironment,” said Dr. Susan K. Lutgendorf, from the University of Iowa in Iowa City.
The findings, reported in the medical journal Cancer are based on a study of 61 women who completed surveys regarding social support, distressed mood, and quality of life before undergoing surgery for Ovarian cancer. Pre-operative blood samples as well as abdominal fluid (i.e., from the tumor environment) obtained during surgery were tested for IL-6 levels.
Social attachment was linked to lower blood levels of IL-6, the report indicates. Conversely, poorer health-related quality of life was tied to higher IL-6 levels.
Similar findings were seen with IL-6 levels in abdominal fluid.
“Our findings suggest that lowering IL-6 levels around the tumor may be one possible mechanism by which psychosocial support has a beneficial effect on Ovarian cancer,” Lutgendorf concluded.
SOURCE: Cancer, July 15, 2005.
Revision date: June 18, 2011
Last revised: by Sebastian Scheller, MD, ScD