Biobehavioral Oncology

The current focus of the Lutgendorf laboratory investigates how stress is related to tumor growth in ovarian cancer patients. This work is funded by the National Cancer Institute.

Epidemiological studies in general support the presence of a relationship between stress and cancer progression. The goal of our work is to understand biobehavioral mechanisms that may underlie this link. We are investigating relationships between life stress and the immune response, angiogenesis, and other mechanisms of tumor growth in ovarian cancer. Recent work has revealed strong relationships between stress and the pro-tumor effects of tumor-associated macrophages. Additionally we have documented a distinctive gene expression fingerprint in primary ovarian tumors from patients with low social support and high depressive symptoms. The goal of this work is to ultimately develop innovative behavioral and pharmacological interventions that may contribute to longer survival in ovarian cancer patients. Dr. Lutgendorf is a core member of the National Cancer Institute Network on Biobehavioral Pathways in Cancer. The mission of this network is to accelerate the translation and communication of biobehavioral discoveries to advance clinical cancer care. The Network fosters research excellence through the integration and dissemination of relevant scientific discoveries and the identification, support, and communication of new research directions in the field of biobehavioral pathways in cancer.