Behavior as a Biological Response Modifier: Psychological Variables and Cancer Prognosis

  • Sandra M. Levy
Part of the Contributions to Psychology and Medicine book series (CONTRIBUTIONS)


There is an accumulating body of evidence (Hesch & Atkinson, 1985) that central nervous systems effects via hormonal and immunological pathways affect malignant cell growth. The perspective assumed in this chapter is that the emotional, cognitive, and behavioral responses of the organism are biological response modifiers relevant to cancer risk and progression of disease. That is, we will consider psychological and behavioral factors as independent contributors in some way to the disease process itself. Certainly, lifestyle factors such as tobacco use or fatty diet contribute to cancer risk, both directly and indirectly. But in addition, patterns of behavioral coping responses may contribute independently to progression and outcome of malignancy. Although the underlying mechanisms linking behavior and tumor response are more clear in the animal studies reviewed in the following, evidence from human studies is beginning to emerge pointing toward analogous mediating biological pathways.


Breast Cancer Social Support Natural Killer Melanoma Patient Endogenous Opioid 
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© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1986

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  • Sandra M. Levy

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