Personality Traits in Cancer Patients

  • Turhal, Nazim Serdar (Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Oncology, Marmara University Medical Faculty) ;
  • Demirhan, Salih (Marmara University School of Medicine) ;
  • Satici, Celal (Marmara University School of Medicine) ;
  • Cinar, Caner (Marmara University School of Medicine) ;
  • Kinar, Abdullah (Marmara University School of Medicine)
  • Published : 2013.08.30


Background: This study was planned to investigate the personality traits of cancer patients in different treatment settings, and to correlate the demographics with the personality features. Materials and Methods: A total of 237 patients referred either to Marmara University School of Medicine (MUSM) Oncology Outpatient Unit or to the private office of the faculty between March 10th and April 22nd, 2010 were enrolled in the study. The Big Five Mini Test was used to evaluate the 40 personality traits of the patients. Results: The study group consisted of 98 males (41.35%) and 139 females (58.65%) with a mean age of 51. Out of the 237, 73.9% had an educational level beyond the junior high school, and 47.3% of all patients reported a positive family history for cancer. A significant difference in terms of reconcilability, extraversion, and responsibility was observed between patients admitting to the university outpatient clinic and the private office (p<0.05). Reconcilability and extraversion were found to differ between genders significantly (p<0.05). The description of the patients by him/herself or by relatives displayed a significant difference in terms of openness (p<0.05). Parameters such as educational level, family history of cancer, age and marital status showed no relevance to their characters. No discordance was observed between the self-analysis of the patient and the patient's relatives. Conclusions: Patients with cancer are typically highly reconcilable and responsible, moderately stable, open and extraverted.


Cancer;patient;relative;personality trait


  1. Aarstad HJ, Heimdal JH, Aarsta AK, Olofsson J (2002). Personality traits in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma patients in relation to the disease state, disease extent and prognosis. Acta Otolaryngol, 122, 892-99.
  2. Antoni MH, Lutgendorf SK, Cole SW, et al (2006). The in.uence of bio-behavioural factors on tumour biology: pathways and mechanisms. Nat Rev Cancer, 6, 240-8.
  3. Arai Y, Hosokawa T, Fukao A, Izumi Y, Hisamichi S (1997). Smoking behaviour and personality: a population-based study in Japan. Addiction, 92,1023-33.
  4. Bleiker EM, Hendriks JH, Otten JD, et al (2008). Personality factors and breast cancer risk: a 13-year follow-up. J Natl Cancer Inst, 100, 213-8.
  5. Dean C, Surtees PG (1989). Do psychological factors predict survival in breast cancer? J Psychosom Res, 33, 561-9.
  6. Eysenck HJ (1988). Personality, stress and cancer: prediction and prophylaxis. Br J Med Psychol, 61, 57-75.
  7. Eysenck HJ (1990) The prediction of death from cancer by means of personality/stress questionnaire: too good to be true? Percept Mot Skills, 71, 216-8.
  8. Greer S, Morris T, Pettingale KW, et al (1990) Psychological response to breast cancer and 15-year outcome. Lancet, 335, 49-50.
  9. Hansen PE, Floderus B, Frederiksen K, Johansen C (2005). Personality traits, health behaviour, and risk for cancer: a prospective study of Swedish twin court. Cancer, 103, 1082-91.
  10. Heaven PC, Mulligan K, Merrilees R, Woods T, Fairooz Y (2001). Neuroticism and conscientiousness as predictors of emotional, external, and restrained eating behaviours. Int J Eating Disord, 30, 161-6.
  11. Hislop TG, Waxler NE, Coldman AJ, et al (1987). The prognostic signi.cance of psychosocial factors in women with breast cancer. J Chronic Dis, 40, 729-35.
  12. Kissen DM, Brown RIF, Kissen M (1969). A further report on personality and psychosocial factors in lung cancer. Ann NY Acad Sci, 164, 535-45.
  13. Kissen DM, Eysenck HJ (1962). Personality in male lung cancer patients. J Psychosom Res, 6, 123-7.
  14. Lillberg K, Verkasalo PK, Kaprio J, et al (2002). A prospective study of life satisfaction, neuroticism and breast cancer risk (Finland). Cancer Causes Control, 13, 191-8.
  15. Morris T, Greer S, Pettingale KW, et al (1981). Patterns of expression of anger and their psychological correlates in women with breast cancer. J Psychosom Res 25(2):111-7.
  16. Mulder RT (2002) Alcoholism and personality. Aust NZ J Psychiatr, 36, 44-52.
  17. Nakaya N, Bidstrup PE, Eplov LF, et al (2009). Mental vulnerability and survival after cancer. Epidemiology, 20, 916-20.
  18. Nakaya N, Bidstrup PE, Saito-Nakaya K, et al (2010). Personality traits and cancer risk and survival based on Finnish and Swedish registry data. Am J Epidemiol, 172, 377-85.
  19. Nakaya N, Hansen PE, Schapiro IR, et al (2006). Personality traits and cancer survival: a Danish Cohort Study. Br J Cancer, 95, 146-52.
  20. Nakaya N, Saito-Nakaya K, Akechi T, et al (2008). Negative psychological aspects and survival in lung cancer patients. Psychooncology, 17, 466-73.
  21. Nakaya N, Tsubono Y, Hosokawa T, et al (2003). Personality and the risk of cancer. J Natl Cancer Inst, 95, 799-805.
  22. Nakaya N, Tsubono Y, Nishino Y, et al (2005). Personality and cancer survival: the Miyagi Cohort Study. Br J Cancer, 92, 2089-94.
  23. Ratcliffe MA, Dawson AA, Walker LG (1995). Eysenck Personality Inventory L-scores in patients with Hodgkin’s disease and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Psychooncology, 4, 39-45.
  24. Schapiro IR, Ross-Petersen L, Saelan H, et al (2001). Extroversion and neuroticism and the associated risk of cancer: a Danish cohort study. Am J Epidemiol, 153, 757-63.
  25. Van Loon AJ, Tijhuis M, Surtees PG, Ormel J (2001). Personality and coping: their relationship with lifestyle risk factors for cancer. Pers Indiv Differ, 31, 541-53.
  26. Vollrath M, Torgersen S (2002). Who takes health risks? A probe into eight personality types. Pers Indiv Differ, 32, 1185-97.

Cited by

  1. Symptoms of Dry Eye Disease and Personality Traits vol.11, pp.11, 2016,