Conflict of interest: Nothing to declare.
Endocrine response and perceived stress test during an experimental challenge task in adult survivors of a childhood cancer†
Article first published online: 20 DEC 2011
Copyright © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Pediatric Blood & Cancer
Volume 59, Issue 1, pages 138–143, 15 July 2012
How to Cite
Laufer, D., Ansermet, F., von der Weid, N., Popovic, M. B., Torrisi, R. and Pierrehumbert, B. (2012), Endocrine response and perceived stress test during an experimental challenge task in adult survivors of a childhood cancer. Pediatr. Blood Cancer, 59: 138–143. doi: 10.1002/pbc.24044
- Issue published online: 17 MAY 2012
- Article first published online: 20 DEC 2011
- Manuscript Accepted: 17 NOV 2011
- Manuscript Received: 6 JUL 2011
- childhood trauma;
- pediatric oncology;
- plasma cortisol;
- stress response;
Although long-term implications of cancer in childhood or adolescence with regard to medical conditions are well documented, the impact on mental health and on response to stress, which may be an indicator of psychological vulnerability, is not yet well understood. In this study, psychological and physiological responses to stress were examined.
Fifty-three participants aged 18–39 years (n = 25 survivors of childhood or adolescence cancer, n = 28 controls) underwent an experimental stress test, the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST). Participants were asked to provide repeated evaluations of perceived stress on visual-analogical scales and blood samples were collected before and after the TSST to measure plasma cortisol.
The psychological perception of stress was not different between the two groups. However, the cancer survivors group showed a higher global plasma cortisol level as well as higher amplitude in the response to the TSST. The global cortisol level in cancer survivors was increased when depression symptoms were present. The subjective perception of stress and the plasma cortisol levels were only marginally correlated in both groups.
It is suggested that the exposure to a life-threatening experience in childhood/adolescence increases the endocrine response to stress, and that the presence of depressive symptoms is associated with an elevation of plasma cortisol levels. A better knowledge of these mechanisms is important given that the dysregulations of the stress responses may cause psychological vulnerability. Pediatr Blood Cancer 2012; 59: 138–143. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.