Relationship between cytokines and symptoms in people with incurable cancer: A systematic review



Patton R, Paval DR, McDonald JJ, Brown D, Gallagher IJ, Skipworth RJE, McMillan DC, Dolan RD, Fallon M & Laird BJA (2021) Relationship between cytokines and symptoms in people with incurable cancer: A systematic review. Critical Reviews in Oncology/Hematology, 159, Art. No.: 103222.

Background Development and spread of cancer is linked to the inflammatory response, in which cytokines serve a key role. The inflammatory response may also form the basis for symptoms of cancer. This systematic review examines the relationship between cytokines and symptoms in incurable cancer. Methods MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane Library, CINAHL, Web of Science and PsycINFO databases were searched for studies from January 2004 to January 2020. Results Twenty studies were selected (n = 1806 patients, 119 controls). Symptoms studied included depression, fatigue, pain, and loss of appetite. Nine studies examined patients with a specified tumour type, the remainder included patients with a mix of tumour types. Thirty-one cytokines were examined; multiple associations between cytokines and symptoms were described, supporting the hypothesis that cytokines may have a key role in symptom generation. Conclusion Symptoms of incurable cancer are associated with circulating cytokines. Further study is required to characterise these relationships, and to explore their therapeutic potential.

Cytokines; Palliative medicine; Symptoms; Systemic inflammatory response; Cancer

Critical Reviews in Oncology/Hematology: Volume 159

Publication date31/03/2021
Publication date online31/01/2021
Date accepted by journal16/01/2021

People (1)


Mr Robert Paval
Mr Robert Paval

PhD Researcher, Health Sciences Stirling