Bulletin du Cancer


"Psychogenesis" of cancer: between myths, misuses and reality Volume 87, issue 9, Septembre 2000

Service de psychopathologie et de médecine psychosomatique, Cliniques universitaires de Mont-Godinne, Université catholique de Louvain, avenue du Docteur-G.-Thérasse 1, 5530 Godinne, Belgique.

Since a long time, hypothesis of links between psychological factors and cancer, have been established in our culture. So far, numerous researches have tempted to indicate stress, coping facing the disease, depression or "type C" personality as factors participating to the onset and/or the course of the cancer. A review of those studies, mainly retrospective, has mostly brought debated results, as well as prospective researches including large sample of population or people awaiting a diagnosis; therefore making oldfashioned every area strictly "psychogenetic" of cancer at first sight. Explicative indirect hypothesis are suggested by the psycho-neuro-endocrino-immunology. Various researches in this field proved that external factors such as stress, depression or social support have significative influences on components of the immune system which in turn influence the onset and/or the course of the cancer. The links between psychological factors and cancer are extremely complex, bringing numerous biological, psychological or even sociological systems in interactions. Then psycho-neuro-endocrino-immunology constitutes an early interdisciplinary way of mediation, capable of account for the connections between psychology and cancer.