When a person is told they have cancer, they might find themselves thinking:
Research has looked at each of these topics. The information below describes what current research shows.
Your personality and emotions did not cause your cancer. Research on this topic has not shown a link between personality and overall cancer risk. Also, personality traits and attitude do not affect cancer survival.
Many people with cancer are told by family and friends to stay positive. But sadness, distress, depression, fear, and anxiety are all normal feelings when learning to deal with cancer. Ignoring these feelings or not talking about them can make the person with cancer feel alone. And this can make it harder for them to cope with how they are feeling .
Studies have shown that keeping a positive attitude does not change the course of a person’s cancer. Trying to keep a positive attitude does not lead to a longer life and can cause some people to feel guilty when they can’t “stay positive.” This only adds to their burden.
Instead, a person with cancer should talk about their feelings. Many people find it helpful to join a support group or seek counseling. Working through their feelings can help a person with cancer feel more optimistic. And this optimism can lead to a better quality of life.
Research has not shown that support groups or counseling help people with cancer live longer. However, there are many benefits to people with cancer who participate in support groups.
Research shows that giving people with cancer information in a support group helps reduce tension, anxiety, and tiredness, and may lower the risk of depression. Being in a support group may also improve feelings of well-being and quality of life.
Research has not shown that guided imagery or other similar techniques can control cancer growth. They also do not help a person with cancer live longer. However, these techniques can help with many symptoms related to cancer and cancer treatment. Some of these include pain, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and retching, anxiety and depression. Practicing guided imagery and relaxation may help improve quality of life.
Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.
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Last Revised: December 4, 2020