Association of symptoms and cytokines in prostate cancer patients receiving radiation treatment

Shannon Dirksen, Kenneth Ferris Kirschner, Michael J. Belyea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Introduction: Men with prostate cancer undergoing radiation treatment frequently report fatigue, insomnia, depression, anxiety and urinary, bowel, sexual, and hormonal symptoms. Plasma concentrations of cytokines may be related to these symptoms, but few studies have examined these relationships. The study purpose was to explore the association between prostate cancer symptoms and cytokine levels at pretreatment and posttreatment. Method: In this longitudinal, correlational study, 29 men with nonmetastatic prostate cancer completed symptom questionnaires at preradiation and postradiation treatment. Blood drawn at these same time points was used to determine levels of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) and interleukins-1β, 6, 10, and 4 (IL-1β, IL-6, IL-10, and IL-4). Results: Men reported symptom severity at pretreatment and posttreatment as low to moderate. There were significant differences from pretreatment to posttreatment in fatigue, insomnia, urinary irritative and incontinence, bowel, sexual, and hormonal problems. There were no significant differences in TNF-α, IL-6, IL-10, or IL-4. At pretreatment, TNF-α was associated with depression, anxiety, urinary irritative, and bowel problems, and IL-4 was related to urinary irritative symptoms. At posttreatment, IL-4 was associated with urinary irritative symptoms. Findings suggest that, in men with prostate cancer, there is no strong association between symptom reporting and cytokine levels. Ongoing research focused on neuroendocrine and genetic markers and their associations with symptoms is promising and may result in the provision of better markers for quantifying the symptom experience in patients with cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)250-257
Number of pages8
JournalBiological Research for Nursing
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2014


  • Cancer
  • Cytokines
  • Prostate
  • Symptoms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Research and Theory


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