1354P - Cancer occurrence and cure: the power of the mind

Date 09 October 2016
Event ESMO 2016 Congress
Session Poster display
Topics Psychosocial Aspects of Cancer
Presenter François Eisinger
Citation Annals of Oncology (2016) 27 (6): 469-473. 10.1093/annonc/mdw386
Authors F. Eisinger1, X. Pivot2, L. Greillier3, C. Touboul4, J. Blay5, S. Couraud6, C. Lhomel7, A.B. Cortot8, J. Morère9, J. Viguier10
  • 1Cancer Control, Institute Paoli Calmettes, 13009 - Marseille/FR
  • 2Service Oncologie Medicale, CHU Besançon, Hôpital Jean Minjoz, 25030 - Besançon/FR
  • 3Multidisciplinary Oncology And Therapeutic Innovations, Hopital Nord, Marseille/FR
  • 4Statistics, KantarHealth, Paris/FR
  • 5Medical Oncology, Centre Léon Bérard, 69008 - Lyon/FR
  • 6Respiratory Diseases And Thoracic Oncology, Centre Hospitalier Lyon Sud, 69495 - Pierre Bénite/FR
  • 7Oncology/hematology Institutionnal, Roche, Boulogne-Billancourt/FR
  • 8Pneumology And Thoracic Oncology, DRC / CHRU of Lille, Lille/FR
  • 9Medical Oncology, Hopital Paul Brousse, Villejuif/FR
  • 10Medical Oncology, CHRU Bretonneau, 37044 - Tours/FR



Making sense of illness, and cancer in particular, is a long-standing quest. In addition to scientific explanations (cancerogenesis), a layperson's outlook on the natural history of the disease is a complex mix of “how?” and “why?”. Psychological factors have been extensively surveyed as a potential cause for cancer in different cultural backgrounds.


In 2014, we conducted two surveys in France among laypersons with no history of cancer (N = 1463, age range 40-75) and physicians (N = 301, age range 27-70). Interviews were conducted between June 12 and July 10, 2014 (lay persons) and between July 9 and August 8, 2014 (physicians). Questions focused on the perceived causes of cancer and the way to achieve cure.


Among the general population of our survey, 7% of women declared that psychological stress is one of the five main causative factors for breast cancer; in an international survey among students in 2000, this rate was 1.7% for Koreans, 20.4% for Bulgarians and 8.3% for French women. In 2014, this factor was reported by 3% of female physicians in France (Significant difference with laywomen P = 0.04). In terms of cure, 89% of laypersons (France, 2014) quoted “state of mind” as a powerful tool and 73% of physicians (P 


It therefore appears that in 2014, psychological factors are considered more as a tool to help cure cancer than as a risk to be controlled. Laypersons saw psychological factors as playing a far more important role in both the origin and the cure of cancer than physicians did. There is also a statistical correlation between these two viewpoints.

Clinical trial identification

Legal entity responsible for the study

Edifice surveys were funded by Roche S.A.


Edifice surveys were funded by Roche S.A.


F. Eisinger, X. Pivot, L. Greillier, J.-Y. Blay, S. Couraud, A.B. Cortot, J.-F. Morère: Honorarium fees from Roche. C. Lhomel: Employee of Roche. All other authors have declared no conflicts of interest.