Neurobiological impact of EMDR in cancer


The exposure to a life-threatening disease such as cancer may constitute a traumatic experience that in some cases may lead to the development of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In recent years, several studies investigated this syndrome in patients with cancer, but few focused on the underlying neurobiology. The aim of this work was to review the current literature of neurobiology of PTSD in oncological diseases, focusing on a comparison with the results of neurobiological studies on PTSD in nononcological patients and on treatments resulted effective for such disorder. Brain structures having a role in the appearance of PTSD in psycho-oncology, and in particular, in intrusive symptoms, seem to be the same involved in non-oncologic PTSD. These findings may have important implications also at clinical level, suggesting that psychotherapies found to be effective to treat PTSD in different populations may be offered also to patients with cancer-induced posttraumatic symptoms. Further studies are needed to deepen our knowledge about cancer-related PTSD neurobiology and its treatment, aiming at transferring the results into clinical practice.






Sara Carletto
Marco Pagani

Original Work Citation

Carletto, S., & Pagani, M. (2016). Neurobiological impact of EMDR in cancer. Journal of EMDR Practice and Research, 10(3), 153-161. doi:10.1891/1933-3196.10.3.153



“Neurobiological impact of EMDR in cancer,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed September 26, 2021,

Output Formats