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Stress and Breast Cancer

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Charlene View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Charlene Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 14 2011 at 9:12am
Peachpoodle,
My heart goes out to you.  I have been in the "dark hole," too and I think I understand some of what you are feeling.  I remember days of crying repeatedly at the drop of a hat.  I also know that probably doesn't help you much.  You said that you thought you needed help.  Maybe it would be good if you sought out a psychologist or support group like Donna suggested. 
 
A month or so ago, I came down with stomach virus.  I immediately thought, "This is it--this must be metastasis of my cancer."  Fortunately, it was gone in a day.  But, during the day that I was sick, I thought of how many of my "good health" days I had spent worrying and bordering on depression.  I made up my mind then that I would stop wasting whatever time I have left worrying about recurrence.   I want to live life and appreciate each day.  I recently listened to a program on Living Beyond Breast Cancer (lbbc.org) about fear of recurrence.  The doctor speaking suggested giving yourself 30 minutes a day to think about your fears, etc.  Then don't let yourself go there the other 23 1/2 hours.  I know that is much easier said than done.
 
I also felt that stress was related to my situation and then I felt anger for a long while because I thought I could have been diagnosed sooner.  But the past is past and all any of us can do now is move forward.
 
I wish you all the best,
Charlene
 
DX 3/10 @59 ILC/TNBC
Stage 1, Grade 2, Multifocal; Lumpectomy/re-excision
SNB 0/4 nodes, BRCA-; Taxotere/Cytoxan X4, 30 rads
3/14:NED
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Annie View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Annie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 14 2011 at 11:42am
Dear PeachPoodle,    I am so sorry you are feeling this way. You are not alone. It is understandable...Do not be concerned about crying...it is okay. I think crying is a really good release, do not feel bad about it when it happens...I will tell you what has helped me since you have asked...if it helps in any way that will be wonderful...Horribly, my husband left me shortly after my treatment, I had side effects of the radiation which go on until this day, four bouts of Cellulits of the lumpectomy breast and I am just finishing antibiotics again...I will be having a mastectomy due to this now chronic problem...my life is suspended in mid air, some days I feel so much grief, regret, and sadness. I do not know where, when or if I am even moving from my home which I love...nothing seems to be settling down...all of this has made me foget I had cancer...some days when I am so exhausted from the emotional I have to remind myself, hey you had cancer, you should get some rest, think about yourself...the only time I remember I had cancer is when I am in the Dr's office or having a bout of this infection...then I remember...I guess that has been a good thing for me. My oncologist says there is no proof that stress actually causes or brings cancer back...what do I do to help with all this pain, isolation, sadness, and grief is to look for the good and God in each day. He said he will never forsake or fail us...I am not sure if you are a believer but since you asked I am telling you what helps me...I see his hand in my life when I look for it...In the encouragement of the morning sun, the beauty of the fallen leaves, the encouragement from a nice song or word that rings out in that particular day,a call from a friend...I also at night and especially in the worst day try to remember my blessings...When I can hardly see due to the grimness of the day, the clouds part when I start counting the things I am grateful for. I actually come up with a good bit of them and then I realise that I am indeed blessed...Keep going, keep putting one foot in front of the other, your are not alone...We love You...God Bless and I will be praying for You...Love, Annie
Annie TNBC Stage IIA Gr 3 1cm lesion 2/5 lymph nodes+ lumpectomy,FEC & D 30Rads finished(08/2009) BRCA- Chronic Cellulitis due to Radiation-- L.Mastectomy Jan 2012
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mainsailset Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 14 2011 at 11:45am
PeachPoodle,
   I would think you a strange person indeed if you weren't experiencing the dark after fears. It's the pits that's for sure. And it's pretty common to feel as if you have had the anchor lifted on your little ship of life and set adrift from the big strong hospital mother ship with no road map on how to reconnect with your old life and the assumptions we all had about the great things life held for us.
   I know I took the attitude that I would learn to recognize stressers and then develop ways to bypass them...when possible, haha! The ones that I couldn't bypass, I learned to address directly, when my boss or a client asked for me to jump into the snakepit for them, I learned to pipe up and say, you know, you're asking me to do something ....." When family asked me to choose sides in a family battle I said you guys are going to have to draw swords without me.
 
But the most helpful thing I've done is go hiking. And the more I feel stressed the more I enjoy planning the hike and then taking off to do it. My hikes last from 45 minutes to 3 hours, and they've brought me great joy and beauty and yes hopefully health.
 
When any and all of the above don't work, I also keep a nifty little antidepressent and a panic attack med by my bed. I just take half tablets cause I'm ornery, but I don't hesitate to do what I have to keep walking back to my old life. I know someday I just might get there!
 
dx 7/08 TN 14x6.5x5.5 cm tumor

3 Lymph nodes involved, Taxol/Sunitab+AC, 5/09 dbl masectomy, path 2mm tumor removed, lymphs all clear, RAD 32 finished 9/11/09. 9/28 CT clear 10/18/10 CT clear
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123Donna View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote 123Donna Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jun 18 2013 at 3:15pm

Fat cells in breast may connect social stress to triple-negative breast cancer

Local chemical signals released by fat cells in the mammary gland appear to provide a crucial link between exposure to unrelenting social stressors early in life, and the subsequent development of breast cancer, researchers from the University of Chicago report in the July 2013 issue of the journal Cancer Prevention Research.

Some forms of stress exposure may be associated with an increased risk of certain types of aggressive breast cancer. But the mechanisms linking the biology of social stress to cancer have been hard to identify. To unravel that mechanism, the researchers looked for differences between mice raised in small groups and those that grow up in an isolated setting—an established model of chronic stress without social supports.

"We found that exposure to the stress of social isolation leads to reprogramming of genes in fat cells in the mammary glands," said study author Suzanne Conzen, MD, professor of medicine at the University of Chicago. "These fat cells then secrete substances that cause nearby pre-cancerous epithelial cells to proliferate more rapidly, accelerating the development of breast cancer. This local effect of fat cells in the breast was completely unanticipated."

The researchers used a genetically altered mouse model of "triple-negative" breast cancer—a form of the disease that lacks receptors for estrogen, progesterone and HER2, three important treatment targets in humans. Triple-negative cancer, representing about 15 percent of all breast cancers, appears to occur disproportionately in younger women. In this mouse model, animals develop precancerous changes in mammary epithelial cells that later lead to cancer.

The mice tested—known as SV40-T antigen mice—all develop tumors by about 16 weeks of age. The researchers previously showed that female mice raised in isolation develop significantly larger, more aggressive, triple negative tumors, and wanted to understand the detailed biology underlying this observation.

Conzen worked closely with colleague Martha McClintock, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of Chicago, to carefully model chronic social stress exposure in female mice. In previous joint projects they showed that a measurable chronic stress response could reliably be induced in mice by raising them in isolation after weaning, rather than housing them in small groups.

In this study, Conzen also worked with colleague, Matthew Brady, PhD, associate professor of medicine and a specialist in fat cell biology, to decipher the effect of stress on the mammary fat.

"By separating fat cells in the breast from the other cell types, we were able to measure expression of genes involved in metabolism in those fat cells and not other fat cells or different cell types from the breast tissue," Brady said.

The researchers looked for differences in gene expression in multiple tissues and circulating hormones between group-housed and isolated mice. To their surprise, there were no significant differences in circulating hormones.

They found a dramatic change, however, in fat cells located within mammary glands. Measurements of those cells taken at 15 weeks of age showed that social isolation stimulated significant increases in the expression of three genes—Hk2 (hexokinase), Acly (ATP citrate lyase) and Acaca (acetyl-CoA carboxykase).

All three are crucial to the uptake and metabolism of glucose, the primary source of cellular energy. Mammary fat cells in the stressed mice took up about twice as much glucose as the same fat cells from unstressed mice, indicating a significant increase in metabolic activity.

These cells use glucose to synthesize lipids—fatty substances, often used to convey biological signals. Increased fat cell metabolism was associated with increased local secretion of substances such as leptin, an important chemical messenger produced by fat cells. Leptin can stimulate proliferation of epithelial cells within the mammary gland. Although leptin levels in the blood stream did not change, fat cells from isolated mice churned out three times as much leptin as the same cells from group-raised mice.

When premalignant epithelial cells from the tumors were exposed to the substances secreted by mammary-gland fat from isolated mice, they began to proliferate more rapidly, suggesting that the isolated animals' fat could secrete substances that boost tumor growth.

There is growing recognition that "fat cells secrete substances that act on neighboring cell types and that the particular location of the fat in the body matters," Conzen said, "These various fat 'depots' function with highly tissue-specific roles. Different types of fat tissues respond differently to stress, diet and exercise."

The changes in fat cell gene expression were most pronounced at 15 weeks of age, just before a tumor mass could be easily detected in the mice. At this point, the tumors were classified as "carcinoma in situ," a precursor to an invasive malignancy. When a biopsy reveals carcinoma in situ, women are typically encouraged to have a lumpectomy.

"Because the change in fat cell behavior precedes malignancy, there may be ways to intervene and thereby slow or prevent the development of a subsequent more serious breast cancer," Conzen said. "We could use drugs to block the production or secretion of the fat signals to proliferate. There may even be ways, including diet and exercise, to manipulate breast fat metabolism."

Why is breast fat particularly sensitive to the effects of social isolation? Scientists don't yet understand how this response fits into the larger picture of the deleterious effects of stress on an organism, but "it will be an important avenue to pursue, particularly when so much human disease appears to be negatively impacted by social stressors, diet, and other factors causing metabolic derangement," Conzen said.

The mammary glands in both mice and humans include many cell types, but fat cells, the authors note, are "arguably the most neglected and the least well understood component of the breast."

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-06/uocm-fci061713.php

DX IDC TNBC 6/09 age 49, Stage 1,Grade 3, 1.5cm,0/5Nodes,KI-67 48%,BRCA-,6/09bi-mx, recon, T/C X4(9/09)
11/10 Recur IM node, Gem,Carb,Iniparib 12/10,MRI NED 2/11,IMRT Radsx40,CT NED11/13,MRI NED3/15

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Susie View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Susie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jun 25 2013 at 7:34am
So interesting...
dx 10/08,age 56,.75 cm. Stage1 Grade3,lumpectomy,SN neg..,AC 12/08-02/09,35rads,03/09-05/09,BRCA2+(E1415X),06/09,oophorectomy 10/09,
Zometa - IV/mo.,07/09-08/10, lumpectomy #2 10/20/10 NED
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mainsailset Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jun 25 2013 at 10:51am
Donna, that study does make it interesting to investigate the role of a mast for TN's if the fat cells in the mammary glands show a link?
dx 7/08 TN 14x6.5x5.5 cm tumor

3 Lymph nodes involved, Taxol/Sunitab+AC, 5/09 dbl masectomy, path 2mm tumor removed, lymphs all clear, RAD 32 finished 9/11/09. 9/28 CT clear 10/18/10 CT clear
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote arabella Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jun 25 2013 at 1:34pm
Donna,

So interesting to me as my husband died on July 1st and I was under stress and somewhat isolated and on following Jan. 1st, felt the small lump.  I know that from the reports I've read,  scientists seemed to be ruling out stress as a cause of cancer, but with my stress and isolation, I couldn't help but relate both to my cancer.   If they didn't cause it, just seems to me that stress and isolation helped it along.  

Thanks for posting.

Kaye
Dx TNBC 1/2013; age 63; 1.1 cm; Stage 1, Grade 1(?); lumpectomy clear margins; ALND -; severe SEs to first TC and treatment stopped; radsX25; BRCA -
Recur 6/2015 Mastectomy
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote annafriday Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jun 25 2013 at 3:00pm
Hello everyone.....I know stress played a role in my development of cancer.  In my research I found an article that discusses stress producing hormonal imbalance.  It may be that in tnbc induced by stress may benefit from androgen supression therapy, a male hormone. There is a clinical trial on this going on now.  

I have read and talked to many people with cancer and found  it can be very life transforming. It has lead many people to follow and find their true life path through this tradgedy. We can find healing in this and also help others from what we have learned.  

Anna
DX:3/20/13 right breast multifocal stage 3a TNBC. Bilateral Mastectomy 4-18-13 largest tumor 6.2cm. 1 microscopic sentinal node positive. KI-67 77%. ACx4..doing Taxol now x12 weekly.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote 123Donna Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 27 2016 at 9:06pm
Breakthrough Award supports research on role of chronic stress in breast cancer development

Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey resident research member Wenwei Hu, PhD, has received a $596,250 Breakthrough Award (W81XWH-16-1-0358) from the U.S. Department of Defense through its Breast Cancer Research Program to study the role of chronic stress in breast cancer development. The focus of the work is to explore how chronic stress impacts breast cancer risk and to provide a foundation that can guide prevention strategies.

"Epidemiological studies have strongly suggested that chronic stress has significant negative influences on the onset, progression and mortality of breast cancers. For instance, disruption of marriage, extreme stress and low social support are related to increased risk of breast cancer. However, the role of chronic stress in breast cancer development remains elusive due to the lack of direct evidence from animal models. This lack of understanding hinders the development of effective and safe preventive strategies for breast cancer promoted by chronic stress," notes Dr. Hu, who is part of Rutgers Cancer Institute's Genome Instability and Cancer Genetics Research Program.

The research will closely examine the role of the p53 protein, which plays a central role in preventing cancer development. Loss of its tumor suppressor function has been shown to contribute greatly to cancer development. A recent study (PNAS, May, 2012) by Hu and colleagues demonstrated that a chronic stress condition tested in mouse models greatly decreased p53 function through the release of stress hormones known as glucocorticoids to promote tumor development. p53 maintains genome integrity and prevents DNA damage accumulation. Weakening of p53 by chronic stress leads to accumulation of DNA damage, which can promote the development of cancer. Using a well-established mouse model that mimics chronic stress in humans, this new study will test the hypothesis that chronic stress reduces p53 function through the release of glucocortioids and that the resulting increase in DNA damage promotes breast cancer development.

The study also will examine the protective effect of vitamin C and L-theanine - an amino acid found in tea - in breast cancer that is promoted by chronic stress, as these natural products have been found to decrease levels of glucocortioids. "Because some known breast cancer risk factors such as family history, atypical hyperplasia of the breast, late menopause and others are not modifiable, novel, safe and effective strategies for prevention of breast cancer are highly desirable," adds Hu, who is also an associate professor of radiation oncology at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

DX IDC TNBC 6/09 age 49, Stage 1,Grade 3, 1.5cm,0/5Nodes,KI-67 48%,BRCA-,6/09bi-mx, recon, T/C X4(9/09)
11/10 Recur IM node, Gem,Carb,Iniparib 12/10,MRI NED 2/11,IMRT Radsx40,CT NED11/13,MRI NED3/15

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote 123Donna Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Mar 16 2019 at 12:47pm
Breast cancer: Does stress fuel its spread?

New research in mouse models shows that stress hormones can help breast cancer grow, spread, and diversify, which makes it harder to treat.

. . . .Previous research that Medical News Today covered suggests that exposure to chronic (long-term) stress is one factor that contributes to cancer cell growth in breast cancer.

Now, a new study conducted by a team from the University of Basel and the University Hospital of Basel in Switzerland has uncovered further evidence to suggest that stress can fuel the spread of breast cancer tumors, perhaps also supporting their diversification.

The study — which the team carried out in a mouse model — found that stress hormones support breast cancer metastasis. The scientists also state that the stress hormone derivatives present in certain anti-inflammatory treatments could actually "disarm" chemotherapy agents. . . .


. . . .The researchers note that in metastatic tumors, a type of receptor called "glucocorticoid receptors" were very active. These receptors bind to stress hormones, including cortisol.

Also, the team found that mice with metastases had higher levels of cortisol and another stress hormone, corticosterone, than rodents in which cancer had not yet spread.


The investigators also observed that when these stress hormones are highly present, they activate glucocorticoid receptors. This, they explain, triggers cancer cells' spread and supports their diversification.

Furthermore, Prof. Bentires-Alj and colleagues saw that glucocorticoid receptors also interact with synthetic derivatives of cortisol — for example, dexamethasone — which doctors use as anti-inflammatories to address some of chemotherapy's side effects.

This interaction, however, seems to interfere with some chemotherapeutic agents, neutralizing their effects. This is what happens with the chemotherapy drug paclitaxel, for instance; it becomes less effective in the presence of dexamethasone.

Based on these results, the scientists advise physicians to use caution in prescribing glucocorticoid hormones for the treatment of breast cancer, in case they end up doing more harm than good.

Prof. Bentires-Alj and team also explain that by the same token, inhibiting glucocorticoid receptors could be a helpful new approach in breast cancer treatment. "Tumor heterogeneity is a serious hurdle for therapy," explains Prof. Bentires-Alj.

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324720.php

DX IDC TNBC 6/09 age 49, Stage 1,Grade 3, 1.5cm,0/5Nodes,KI-67 48%,BRCA-,6/09bi-mx, recon, T/C X4(9/09)
11/10 Recur IM node, Gem,Carb,Iniparib 12/10,MRI NED 2/11,IMRT Radsx40,CT NED11/13,MRI NED3/15

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