A cancer diagnosis leads to increased psychological and emotional distress. However, in the aftermath of a traumatic event, such as being diagnosed with breast cancer, an individual may also experience beneficial changes in life perspective, relationships with others, and more. These changes are collectively known as posttraumatic growth (PTG). Studies have demonstrated that cortisol levels have been linked with cancer survival, yet an investigation of the relationship between PTG and cortisol has yet to be conducted among cancer patients.The relationship of PTG to cortisol levels was examined among 99 metastatic breast cancer patients.We found a significant correlation between PTG and diurnal cortisol slope (Spearman's rho=-0.21, p<0.05), indicating a link between positive psychological changes and healthier endocrine functioning in cancer patients.PTG in response to the stress of cancer was related to more normal (i.e., steeper) diurnal cortisol patterns. Longitudinal studies are recommended to investigate these mechanisms in relationship to cancer survival.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2014.03.001
View details for PubMedID 24767622