Psychological response to cancer: Role of 5-HTTLPR genetic polymorphism of serotonin transporter

Giulia Schillani, Elisabetta Martinis, Maria Anna Capozzo, Daniel Era, Tania Cristante, Giorgio Mustacchi, Maria Anna Conte, Maurizio De Vanna, Luigi Grassi, Tullio Giraldi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: 5-HTTLPR genetic polymorphism of serotonin transporter (SERT) and stressful life events facilitate depression. The aim of this investigation was therefore to determine the correlations between SERT polymorphism and mental adjustement to cancer. Patients and Methods: Breast cancer patients early after surgery, and subjects with various advanced tumours were recruited, evaluated using the Mini Mental Adjustment to Cancer Scale and Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), and genotyped. Results: In early breast cancer patients (n=53), hopelessness-helplessness (HH) and anxious preoccupation (AP) significantly correlated with depression and anxiety; avoidance (AV) correlated with anxiety. Advanced cancer patients (n=73) displayed similar correlations, and a negative correlation of HADS depression with fighting spirit (FS) and AV. The stratification for 5-HTTLPR showed that early breast cancer carriers of the LIL variant displayed a significant correlation between HH and depression. Conclusion: Among early breast cancer patients, a specific set, characterized by their 5-HTTLPR variant, display differential correlations between HH and depression, with possible implications for treatment options.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3823-3826
Number of pages4
JournalAnticancer Research
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • 5-HTTLPR polymorphism
  • Anxiety
  • Cancer
  • Depression
  • Mental adjustment to cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology
  • Medicine(all)


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