The aim: The aim of this study is to investigate the correlation between the morning level of serum cortisol and perceptive experience of optimism in a selected group of 60 patients with newly diagnosed cancer who were treated at Mostar University Clinical Hospital during a one-month period. Patients and methods: The morning level of serum cortisol was measured in all patients following the verification of oncological disease. The patients also filled out a questionnaire of socio-demographic data, as well as the scales for optimism/pessimism assessment. Results: The average morning serum cortisol level was within the reference values in the majority of patients, independently of their perceptive experience of optimism/pessimism. There was no significant difference in the morning level of serum cortisol among the subgroups of patients high and low on the scale of optimism, as well as the scale of pessimism. No correlation existed between the serum cortisol morning level and expressed optimism/pessimism, as well. The great majority of respondents had secondary and lower education, was retired or unemployed, and suffered lower socio-economic conditions of life. Therefore, their access to medical information and their knowledge of cancer modern treatment options and possibilities were restricted, what may also have an influence onto perceptive experience of optimism/pessimism. Conclusion: The results concerned with the perceptive experience of optimism/pessimism assessment were not a consequence of stress reaction but they were more correlated to general personal characteristics, the level of education, and socio-economic status of patients. The results do not confirm the impact of morning serum cortisol level onto physiological reactions to stressful conditions and situations in selected group of patients with de novo carcinoma.
Key words: serum cortisol; optimism; pessimism; denovo cancer; socio-demographic status.