Williams Cancer Institute

Simple Solutions to Manage Stress During Cancer Treatment

stress and cancer (1)

Simple Solutions to Manage Stress During Cancer Treatment

There’s more to stress than you might realize. It’s especially important to deal with it when you’ve received a cancer diagnosis or are in midst of cancer treatment.

How you handle the stress in your life can affect two important cancer fighting partners:

  • You
  • Your chosen health team

What years of research reveal about stress and its impact on cancer

How cancer progresses is consistently under the microscope. The impact that stress has on its advancement is also a concern.

For example, if you experience trauma, depression, or other distressing circumstances there’s a link to the increased development of cancer.

We’ve talked much about your immunity and immunotherapy. Research shows that stress can restrict the the way specific immune system cells function. Most noticeable is the affect on those cells that target and defeat emerging cancer cells. 1

Studies also confirm that a weakened or suppressed immune system gives pre-cancerous (cells), cancerous cells, and cancer-causing viruses greater opportunity to cause damage and create uncontrolled cancer cell growth. 2

Another stress side-effect that requires attention

Stress causes feelings of anxiety. This can heighten your feelings of uncertainty about your future health included.

Add cancer to the mix and you can become increasingly fearful. This often leads to feeling stressed about how your diagnosis and treatment is affecting your ability to work, care for your family, and other interests or daily routines.

A large study published in October 2014 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, for example, found that one in three of the 2,100 patients in cancer care centers in Germany experienced a clinically defined emotional disorder such as anxiety, depression or mood or adjustment disorder a higher prevalence than in the general population.

A 2013 study published in the Lancet medical journal, evaluating 43 studies involving 51,381 cancer patients, found that long-term cancer survivors are more likely to experience anxiety than their spouses or the general population. 3

Accept and deal with stress if you want to improve your quality of life (and cancer-fighting success)

A breast cancer survivor study reported that those (survivors) who practiced yoga for three months significantly reduced their cancer related fatigue and improved their energy. 4

Their success is encouraging. It provides some stress-reducing solutions you can try and find what works for you:

  • Massage therapy
  • Meditation and guided imagery
  • Yoga
  • Mindset (cognitive) therapies
  • Prayer
  • Walking on the beach or quality time in nature/outdoors

What about sleep quality and fatigue during cancer treatment?

Yoga can improve that too! Sleep quality and bouts of fatigue improved following a brief, four-week yoga routine according to a related report. It was also reported that extending a yoga routine to eight weeks improved emotional well-being and reduced fatigue following cancer treatment. 5

No doubt, stress and anxiety are expected responses following a cancer diagnosis and during treatment. Even so, you can manage it and find the solutions that work for you to reduce or eliminate its harmful impact.

Reference: ,Apr 15, 2012, Stress and Cancer 101: Why Stress Reduction Is Essential, https://integrativeoncology-essentials.com/2012/04/anticancer-lifestyle-stress-reduction-101/

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