Cancer feeds on negative emotions and "exploits" them to protect itself from immune system attacks that try to stop it. This is why stress, anxiety and depression can compromise the outcome of immunotherapy treatments, making them less effective, and the treatment of the emotional state becomes as central as the use of other therapies. This is demonstrated by a study conducted by the Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam and recently published in the journal Nature Medicine. The results will be discussed at the ninth edition of the Immunotherapy and Melanoma Bridge, which concludes today and features the author of the work, Christian U. Blank. These studies do not concern melanoma, but indications in this sense also come from research on non-small cell lung cancer and colon cancer. Paolo Ascierto, president of the conference and director of the Department of Melanoma Oncology, Oncological Immunotherapy and Innovative Therapies at the National Cancer Institute IRCCS Fondazione Pascale in Naples, explains that "stress can promote the growth and resilience of the tumor, both through the production of a series of hormones (such as cortisol) that 'nourish' it, and by promoting the creation of an advantageous microenvironment for the proliferation of metastases and both by 'weakening' and 'corrupting' the cells of the immune system. Psychological support from the beginning of the treatment process can therefore have a triple function: on the one hand it can improve the patient's quality of life, on the other hand it can reduce the 'nourishment' of the tumour and on the other hand it can support and protect the response to immunotherapy treatments".
"It is therefore essential that the emotional and psychological state of the patient is not neglected, but must be considered to all intents and purposes an integral part of the treatment pathway," Ascierto points out.
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