Article

International Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 127-142

First online:

Interleukin-6 and use of social support in gynecologic cancer patients

  • Susan K. LutgendorfAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, E11 Seashore Hall, University of Iowa Email author 
  • , Barrie AndersonAffiliated withDepartment of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Division of Gynecologic Oncology, University of Iowa
  • , Joel I. SoroskyAffiliated withDepartment of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Division of Gynecologic Oncology, University of Iowa
  • , Richard E. BullerAffiliated withDepartment of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Division of Gynecologic Oncology, University of IowaDepartment of Pharmacology, University of Iowa
  • , David M. LubaroffAffiliated withDepartment of Urology and Microbiology, University of Iowa

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Abstract

Interleukin-6 (IL-6) is related to disease progression in ovarian and cervical cancers and is associated with abnormal endometrial cell growth. IL-6 is also involved in the stress response and depression. We examined relationships among distress, use of social support, IL-6, clinical status, and disability in gynecologic cancer patients. A sample of 21 gynecologic cancer patients with early stage or regionally advanced disease who had not yet received initial treatment and 33 healthy controls completed psychosocial assessments and had early morning blood draws. This was done presurgery for patients. Clinical and functional status of patients was assessed at 1 year. IL-6 was significantly higher among patients than among controls. Among patients, seeking instrumental support at diagnosis was associated with lower concurrent IL-6, better clinical status, and less disability at 1 year. Distress was not correlated with these outcome measures, and IL-6 did not mediate the effects of social support on these outcomes. These findings suggest that the ways patients cope with stress of cancer may be associated with a cytokine that is involved in tumor progression in gynecologic cancers and with clinical variables at 1 year.

Key words

IL-6 seeking instrumental social support distress gynecologic cancer