The Psychoneuroimmunology of Stress Regulation in Pediatric Cancer Patients Academic Article uri icon

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  • Stress is a ubiquitous experience that can be adaptive or maladaptive. Physiological stress regulation, or allostasis, can be disrupted at any point along the regulatory pathway resulting in adverse effects for the individual. Children with cancer exhibit significant changes to these pathways in line with stress dysregulation and long-term effects similar to those observed in other early-life stress populations, which are thought to be, in part, a result of cytotoxic cancer treatments. Children with cancer may have disruption to several steps in the stress-regulatory pathway including cognitive-affective function, neurological disruption to stress regulatory brain regions, altered adrenal and endocrine function, and disrupted tissue integrity, as well as lower engagement in positive coping behaviours such as physical activity and pro-social habits. To date, there has been minimal study of stress reactivity patterns in childhood illness populations. Nor has the role of stress regulation in long-term health and function been elucidated. We conclude that consideration of stress regulation in childhood cancer may be crucial in understanding and treating the disease.


  • White, Gillian E
  • Caterini, Jessica E
  • McCann, Victoria
  • Rendall, Kate
  • Nathan, Paul C
  • Rhind, Shawn G
  • Jones, Heather
  • Wells, Greg

publication date

  • September 18, 2021