The vagus nerve may slow down tumorigenesis because it inhibits
contributors to cancer progression such as inflammation. Vagal activ-
ity is related to psychological prognostic factors such as hopeless-
ness, and patients can self‐activate vagal nerve activity by deep
breathing. I will present results of a systematic review of 12 studies
in which vagal activity, indexed by hear‐rate variability (HRV), pre-
dicted clinical outcomes. In 100% of the methodologically better
studies, higher HRV predicted better prognosis, independent of con-
founders. I will present new results showing that the ratio of HRV to
inflammation also independently predicts survival in non‐small cell
lung cancer and in pancreatic cancer. Finally, results of a matched
controlled intervention pilot study with 6 patients with metastatic
colon cancer will be presented. Half performed for 3 months HRV‐
biofeedback daily, half not, and pairs of patients were matched on
cancer‐type, ‐stage and ‐treatment and on baseline tumor marker
levels (CEA). At 3 months, CEA levels tended to decline in the
HRV‐biofeedback group more than in controls. HRV‐biofeedback
may especially be relevant to high‐hopeless patients because HRV
is inversely related to hopelessness and since such self‐activation
can be empowering. In summary, vagal nerve activity independently
predicts cancer prognosis, these prospective associations have plausi-
ble neuroimmunological pathways, and vagal nerve activation may
have clinical implications for psychooncology, which need to be
scientifically tested.
Originele taal-2English
Pagina's (van-tot)76-76
Nummer van het tijdschriftS3
StatusPublished - aug 2017
EvenementWorld Congress of Psycho-Oncology - Berlin, Germany
Duur: 14 aug 201718 aug 2017


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