, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 127-142

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

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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.

This work was partially supported by American Cancer Society Institutional Seed Grant IN-122Q to the University of Iowa and Grant RR00059 from the GCRCNCRR NIH to the CRC at the University of Iowa.
We are grateful to Charles Davis and Jane Leserman for statistical consultation; Sharon Krogman, Karin Larsen, and Betsy Brandl for assistance with data collection; and Sue-Young Hong for laboratory assistance.