Clin Oncol | Volume 3, Issue 1 | Review Article | Open Access

Why we Should Stimulate the Vagus Nerve in Cancer

Marijke De Couck1,2* and Ralf Caers3

1Department of Mental Health, Wellbeing Research Group, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium
2Department of Health Care, University College Odisee, Belgium
3Department of Work and Organization Studies, KU Leuven, Belgium

*Correspondance to: Marijke De Couck 

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Cancer-related fatigue, pain, anxiety, depression, insomnia and cognitive impairment often co-occur in metastatic cancer. Their co-occurrence can be explained by a commonetio logical factor, namely excessive inflammation, which also contributes totumorigenesis. Recent research shows that the vagus nerve has an anti-inflammatory role and has protective effects against these symptoms and prognosis in various cancers. Initially high vagus nerve activity independently predicts better cancer prognosis, specifically in the metastatic stage, and attenuates these symptoms. Various (semi) experimental studies in humans and animals showed that vagotomy accelerates tumor growth, while vagal nerve activation improves cancer prognosis. Since cancer patients also have a low vagus nerve activity, these points to strong need to activate this nerve and thereby reduce the symptom cluster and prolong survival, via the reduction of inflammation. This article reveals neuro modulation of tumors and proposes a novel adjuvant cancer therapy to improve patients’ prognosis and quality of life.


Vagus nerve stimulation; Cancer; Neuromodulation; Symptom-reduction


De Couck M, Caers R. Why we Should Stimulate the Vagus Nerve in Cancer. Clin Oncol. 2018; 3: 1515.

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