Psychosocial functioning and vascular endothelial growth factor in patients with head and neck cancer

Head Neck. 2014 Aug;36(8):1113-9. doi: 10.1002/hed.23421. Epub 2013 Oct 26.


Background: Psychosocial functioning is associated with vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in various patient populations. This study examined whether psychosocial functioning in patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) is associated with tumor VEGF expression, a protein that stimulates angiogenesis and is associated with poor prognosis.

Methods: Forty-two newly diagnosed patients completed assessments of psychosocial functioning (ie, depressive symptoms, perceived stress, anxiety, social support) before surgery. Tumor samples were obtained for VEGF analysis and human papillomavirus (HPV)-typing.

Results: Poorer psychosocial functioning was associated with greater VEGF expression controlling for disease stage (odds ratio [OR], 4.55; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.72-12.0; p < .01). When examined by HPV status, the association between psychosocial functioning and VEGF remained significant among patients who were HPV negative (OR, 5.50; 95% CI, 1.68-17.3; p < .01), but not among patients who were HPV positive.

Conclusion: These findings inform our understanding of the biobehavioral pathways that may contribute to poor outcomes in non-HPV-associated HNSCCs.

Keywords: anxiety; depressive symptoms; human papillomavirus; perceived stress; social support.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anxiety Disorders / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / metabolism*
  • Depressive Disorder / metabolism
  • Female
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Papillomaviridae / isolation & purification
  • Papillomavirus Infections / diagnosis
  • Prognosis
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma of Head and Neck
  • Stress, Psychological / metabolism*
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / metabolism*


  • VEGFA protein, human
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A