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J Psychosom Res. 2009 Nov;67(5):369-76. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2009.05.016. Epub 2009 Sep 24.

Psychosocial adaptation and cellular immunity in breast cancer patients in the weeks after surgery: An exploratory study.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, FL, USA.



The period just after surgery for breast cancer requires psychosocial adaptation and is associated with elevated distress. Distress states have been associated with decreased cellular immune functioning in this population, which could have negative effects on physical recovery. However, little is known about relations between psychological status [negative and positive mood states and overall quality of life (QOL)] and cellular signaling cytokines that could account for these associations in women undergoing treatment for breast cancer.


The present study examined associations between psychological adaptation indicators (mood, QOL) and T-helper cell type 1 (Th1) cytokine production from stimulated peripheral mononuclear cells in women who had recently undergone surgery for early-stage breast cancer but had not yet begun adjuvant therapy. These associations were evaluated while controlling for relevant disease/treatment, sociodemographic, and health behavior covariates.


Lower anxiety related to greater production of the Th1 cytokine interleukin-2 (IL-2), while greater positive mood (affection) related to greater production of the Th1 cytokines IL-12 and interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma). Better QOL related to greater production of the Th1 cytokine, tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha).


Individual differences in psychosocial adaptation in women with breast cancer during the period after surgery relate to biological parameters that may be relevant for health and well-being as they move through treatment.

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