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      Impact of partial versus whole breast radiation therapy on fatigue, perceived stress, quality of life and natural killer cell activity in women with breast cancer


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          This pilot study used a prospective longitudinal design to compare the effect of adjuvant whole breast radiation therapy (WBRT) versus partial breast radiation therapy (PBRT) on fatigue, perceived stress, quality of life and natural killer cell activity (NKCA) in women receiving radiation after breast cancer surgery.


          Women (N = 30) with early-stage breast cancer received either PBRT, Mammosite brachytherapy at dose of 34 Gy 10 fractions/5 days, (N = 15) or WBRT, 3-D conformal techniques at dose of 50 Gy +10 Gy Boost/30 fractions, (N = 15). Treatment was determined by the attending oncologist after discussion with the patient and the choice was based on tumor stage and clinical need. Women were assessed prior to initiation of radiation therapy and twice after completion of radiation therapy. At each assessment, blood was obtained for determination of NKCA and the following instruments were administered: Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Fatigue (FACT-F), and Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-General (FACT-G). Hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) was used to evaluate group differences in initial outcomes and change in outcomes over time.


          Fatigue (FACT-F) levels, which were similar prior to radiation therapy, demonstrated a significant difference in trajectory. Women who received PBRT reported progressively lower fatigue; conversely fatigue worsened over time for women who received WBRT. No difference in perceived stress was observed between women who received PBRT or WBRT. Both groups of women reported similar levels of quality of life (FACT-G) prior to initiation of radiation therapy. However, HLM analysis revealed significant group differences in the trajectory of quality of life, such that women receiving PBRT exhibited a linear increase in quality of life over time after completion of radiation therapy; whereas women receiving WBRT showed a decreasing trajectory. NKCA was also similar between therapy groups but additional post hoc analysis revealed that better quality of life significantly predicted higher NKCA regardless of therapy.


          Compared to WBRT, PBRT results in more rapid recovery from cancer-related fatigue with improved restoration of quality of life after radiation therapy. Additionally, better quality of life predicts higher NKCA against tumor targets, emphasizing the importance of fostering quality of life for women undergoing adjuvant radiation therapy.

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          Reciprocal regulation of the neural and innate immune systems.

          Innate immune responses are regulated by microorganisms and cell death, as well as by a third class of stress signal from the nervous and endocrine systems. The innate immune system also feeds back, through the production of cytokines, to regulate the function of the central nervous system (CNS), and this has effects on behaviour. These signals provide an extrinsic regulatory circuit that links physiological, social and environmental conditions, as perceived by the CNS, with transcriptional 'decision-making' in leukocytes. CNS-mediated regulation of innate immune responses optimizes total organism fitness and provides new opportunities for therapeutic control of chronic infectious, inflammatory and neuropsychiatric diseases.
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            Fatigue in breast cancer survivors: occurrence, correlates, and impact on quality of life.

            To describe the occurrence of fatigue in a large sample of breast cancer survivors relative to general population norms and to identify demographic, medical, and psychosocial characteristics of fatigued survivors. Breast cancer survivors in two large metropolitan areas completed standardized questionnaires as part of a survey study, including the RAND 36-item Health Survey, Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression Scale, Breast Cancer Prevention Trial Symptom Checklist, Medical Outcomes Study Sleep Scale, and demographic and treatment-related measures. On average, the level of fatigue reported by the breast cancer survivors surveyed (N = 1,957) was comparable to that of age-matched women in the general population, although the breast cancer survivors were somewhat more fatigued than a more demographically similar reference group. Approximately one third of the breast cancer survivors assessed reported more severe fatigue, which was associated with significantly higher levels of depression, pain, and sleep disturbance. In addition, fatigued women were more bothered by menopausal symptoms and were somewhat more likely to have received chemotherapy (with or without radiation therapy) than nonfatigued women. In multivariate analyses, depression and pain emerged as the strongest predictors of fatigue. Although the majority of breast cancer survivors in this large and diverse sample did not experience heightened levels of fatigue relative to women in the general population, there was a subgroup of survivors who did report more severe and persistent fatigue. We identified characteristics of these women that may be helpful in elucidating the mechanisms underlying fatigue in this population, as well as directing intervention efforts.
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              Demonstration of an interferon gamma-dependent tumor surveillance system in immunocompetent mice.

              This study demonstrates that endogenously produced interferon gamma (IFN-gamma) forms the basis of a tumor surveillance system that controls development of both chemically induced and spontaneously arising tumors in mice. Compared with wild-type mice, mice lacking sensitivity to either IFN-gamma (i.e., IFN-gamma receptor-deficient mice) or all IFN family members (i.e., Stat1-deficient mice) developed tumors more rapidly and with greater frequency when challenged with different doses of the chemical carcinogen methylcholanthrene. In addition, IFN-gamma-insensitive mice developed tumors more rapidly than wild-type mice when bred onto a background deficient in the p53 tumor-suppressor gene. IFN-gamma-insensitive p53(-/-) mice also developed a broader spectrum of tumors compared with mice lacking p53 alone. Using tumor cells derived from methylcholanthrene-treated IFN-gamma-insensitive mice, we found IFN-gamma's actions to be mediated at least partly through its direct effects on the tumor cell leading to enhanced tumor cell immunogenicity. The importance and generality of this system is evidenced by the finding that certain types of human tumors become selectively unresponsive to IFN-gamma. Thus, IFN-gamma forms the basis of an extrinsic tumor-suppressor mechanism in immunocompetent hosts.

                Author and article information

                BMC Cancer
                BMC Cancer
                BMC Cancer
                BioMed Central
                18 June 2012
                : 12
                : 251
                [1 ]Department of Radiation Oncology, Loyola University Health System, Maywood, IL, USA
                [2 ]Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing, Loyola University Chicago, Maywood, IL, USA
                [3 ]Radiation Oncology, Northwest Community Hospital, Arlington Heights, IL, USA
                [4 ]Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago, Maywood, IL, USA
                [5 ]Moncrief Radiation Oncology Center, UT Southwestern Medical Center, 5801 Forest Park Road, Dallas, USA
                Copyright ©2012 Albuquerque et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                : 7 December 2011
                : 29 May 2012
                Research Article

                Oncology & Radiotherapy
                perceived stress,fatigue,natural killer cell activity,quality of life,breast radiation


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