Research Article|Articles in Press

Psychoneuro-oncology: How Chronic Stress Grows Cancer

  • Francisco Tausk
    Corresponding author: Francisco Tausk, MD, Departments of Dermatology, Allergy, Immunology, and Rheumatology, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY, USA
    Departments of Dermatology, Allergy, Immunology, and Rheumatology, University of Rochester School of Medicine, Rochester, NY, USA
    Search for articles by this author


      Chronic stress is an inextricable part of modern daily living; practically all human diseases are negatively affected by it, particularly cancer. Numerous studies have shown that stressors, depression, social isolation, and adversity correlate with a worse prognosis for patients with cancer, with increased symptoms, early metastasis, and a shortened life span. Prolonged or very intense adverse life episodes are perceived and assessed by the brain that translate into physiologic responses mediated through relays to the hypothalamus and locus coereleus. This triggers the activation of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) and the peripheral nervous system (PNS) with the secretion of glucocorticosteroids/epinephrine and nor-epinephrine (NE) . These hormones and neurotransmitters affect immune surveillance and the immune response to malignancies by skewing immunity from a Type 1 to a Type 2 response; this not only impedes the detection and killing of cancer cells but actually induces immune cells to facilitate cancer growth and systemic spread. This may be mediated by the engagement of norepinephrine to β adrenergic receptors, which can be partially reversed by the administration of β blockers.


      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'


      Subscribe to Clinics in Dermatology
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect