Link between stress, cervical cancer uncovered

Washington: A new study has established an association between cervical cancer and stress in patients, stating that females having cervical cancer with stress-related disorders are at a higher risk of succumbing to the disease.

Findings of the study were published in the journal ‘Cancer Research’.
“Patients receiving a cancer diagnosis are at increased risk of several stress-related psychiatric disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and stress-reaction and adjustment disorders,” said Donghao Lu, the study’s author.

Lu added, “Emerging evidence from both experimental and epidemiological studies indicates that psychological distress might affect the progression of many cancer types.”

For the following study, researchers gathered and examined records of 4,245 patients diagnosed with cervical cancer in Sweden between January 1, 2002, and December 31, 2011.

At the same time, researchers also identified patients who had experienced a stressful life event, such as the death or severe illness of a family member, divorce, or being between jobs, as these events would increase emotional burden on patients.

Moreover, researchers also identified women who had cervical cancer or unspecified uterine cancers as their cause of death. During the study, 1,392 patients died, and cervical cancer was listed as the cause of death for 1,005 of them.

In all, researchers found that 1,797 patients either had stress-related disorders or had undergone stressful life events. Patients with either a stress-related disorder or a stressful life event were 33 per cent more likely to die of the disease.

Those who had stress-related disorders were 55 per cent more likely to die of their cervical cancer, while those who had experienced a stressful life event were 20 per cent more likely to die of their disease.

There are several possible explanations for the link between psychological stress and cervical cancer-specific mortality.

One reason can be that a woman suffering from a psychological disorder may be less likely to seek treatment and may be diagnosed at a later stage, added Lu.

“Our findings support that oncologists or gynecologists perform an active evaluation of psychiatric status on return visits to see how patients with cervical cancer are doing, not only somatically, but also mentally,” said co-author Karin Sundstrom.

“If confirmed in other populations and countries, psychological screening and intervention may be considered as an integral component in cervical cancer care,” Sundstrom added.

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