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FRIDAY, April 29 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with newly diagnosed head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) who have increased levels of perceived stress and depressive symptoms may have higher levels of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) expression, which is associated with shorter disease-free survival, according to a study presented at the 32nd Annual Meeting & Scientific Sessions of the Society of Behavioral Medicine, held April 27 to 30 in Washington, D.C.
Carolyn Y. Fang, Ph.D., from the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, and colleagues analyzed the association between psychosocial functioning and biological pathways related to tumor growth (VEGF expression) in 37 newly diagnosed, predominantly male HNSCC patients with an average age of 56.7 years. The primary tumor sites were oral cavity, larynx, and oropharynx, and more than 40 percent of patients were categorized as having early-stage disease. Prior to treatment, patients completed psychosocial questionnaires, and VEGF expression was evaluated by immunohistochemical analysis of the tumor tissue obtained during surgery.
The investigators found that, after controlling for disease stage, higher levels of perceived stress and depressive symptoms were significantly correlated with greater expression of VEGF in tumor tissue. After controlling for disease stage and other variables, increased VEGF expression was correlated with shorter disease-free survival (hazard ratio, 3.97).
"Poorer psychosocial functioning was associated with greater expression of VEGF in tumor tissue. Greater VEGF expression was, in turn, associated with shorter disease-free survival in HNSCC patients," the authors write.
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