Optimistic women with ovarian cancer fare better

A study of women with ovarian cancer undergoing chemotherapy shows that those with a more optimistic outlook were less distressed and had a better quality of life.

The study team also found that higher levels of optimism at the start of treatment were associated with greater declines in cancer antigen 125 (CA 125) levels during treatment. Declines in CA 125 have been used to predict the likelihood of remission and survival in ovarian cancer patients.

“It is important for health care providers to identify patients who feel less optimistic about life and their cancer and treatment because this population may be vulnerable to distress, diminished quality of life, and suboptimum clinical outcomes,” said Dr. Janet S. de Moor, now at the Ohio State University School of Public Health in Columbus.

“Patients who are less optimistic may benefit from interventions to help them cope with their cancer diagnosis,” she added.

While Dr. de Moor was at Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, she and her colleagues assessed levels of optimism, distress, and health-related quality of life, and the change in CA 125 at the start and end of chemotherapy in 90 women with ovarian cancer.

As reported in the July/August issue of Psychosomatic Medicine, the researchers found that women who reported higher optimism about life in general and about their cancer and treatment reported lower anxiety, depression, and perceived stress, as well as better health-related quality of life. They also experienced greater declines in their CA 125 levels during chemotherapy.

“The association between optimism and CA 125 is plausible given other research linking psychosocial variables to tumor-related markers,” Dr. de Moor told Reuters Health. “It should be tested further in future research.”

SOURCE: Psychosomatic Medicine, July/August 2006.

Provided by ArmMed Media
Revision date: July 5, 2011
Last revised: by David A. Scott, M.D.