- Cancer, an abnormal cell growth disease, significantly impacts patients’ mental health, intensifying fear, anxiety, and uncertainty.
- Social isolation and altered body image due to cancer treatment can further deteriorate mental health.
- Side effects of cancer treatment, known as treatment morbidity, can cause depression, anxiety, and PTSD-like symptoms.
- Modern cancer treatments include hyperthermia, immunotherapy, photodynamic, and hormone therapy.
- These treatments and appropriate mental health support can help patients manage cancer’s physical and psychological aspects.
Cancer is a life-altering disease that doesn’t only affect the body but also the mind. The word cancer alone can bring on a wave of fear and anxiety, and it’s no secret that mental health and cancer have a close correlation. Feeling down and facing depression, anxiety, and other mental health challenges is common among people fighting the disease. Here’s what you need to know about cancer, how it can affect your mental health, and ways to treat it.
What is Cancer?
Cancer is a group of diseases caused by the rapid and abnormal growth of cells in the body. The growth of these cancerous cells can spread to other parts of the body (metastasize) and damage healthy tissue. There are many types of cancers, depending on the part(s) of the body affected, but some common forms include breast and colon cancer.
How Does Cancer Affect Mental Health?
A cancer diagnosis’s emotional and psychological impact can be quite significant, as it significantly alters one’s life. Here are some ways cancer can affect your mental health:
1. Coping With Uncertainty
One of the most significant ways cancer can impact your mental health is through the uncertainty that comes with it. People living with cancer, especially those in advanced stages of the disease, can find it challenging to come to terms with the unpredictable nature of the disease. This uncertainty can lead to feelings of anxiety and depression that require specialized treatment.
2. Fear of Death
People fighting cancer have a heightened sense of fear about death and dying. The inevitability of the end of life and the ever-present fear that cancer may lead to it can result in extreme stress and profound sadness. Cancer patients must receive counseling to help them cope with their emotional struggles.
3. Social Isolation
Social isolation is a common side effect of cancer and its treatment, and it can affect a person’s mental health. Patients may avoid contact with family and friends, causing feelings of loneliness and anxiety, resulting in a further decline in overall mental health.
4. Body Image
People with cancer may experience changes in their appearance due to treatment or weight loss. These changes can cause dissatisfaction with their bodies and self-esteem, resulting in fatigue and depression. Counseling and psychological support are essential for patients struggling with their body image. It’s important to improve body image over time after you get better from the disease. This way, it won’t affect you as much as you recover.
5. Treatment Morbidity
Another significant way cancer can affect mental health is through the side effects of treatment. Treatment morbidity can shorten a person’s lifespan, causing pain and compromising their quality of life, leading to depression, anxiety, and PTSD-like symptoms.
Thankfully, there are many treatment options for cancer today. Here are four new ways:
One of the most recent cancer treatments is hyperthermia, which increases a tumor’s temperature and kills the cancerous cells. This cutting-edge therapy can be used alone or with other treatments, like chemotherapy and radiation. Hyperthermia cancer therapy is affordable and effective, especially if the cancer is caught early.
Immunotherapy helps to stimulate the body’s immune system to fight cancer. It works by introducing antibodies or other substances into the body that help it recognize and target the cancerous cells, ultimately leading to their death.
Photodynamic therapy utilizes light energy to shrink tumors and kill off cancer cells. This type of therapy is highly effective and has few side effects. It can also be used in conjunction with other treatments to boost effectiveness.
Hormone therapy is a treatment that works by blocking or reducing the hormones that help cancer cells grow and spread throughout the body. This therapy is typically used for breast cancer, but it can also be effective for other types of cancer.
Cancer is a life-altering disease that can cause emotional and psychological trauma, but thankfully, treatments are available to help you manage your mental health. From hyperthermia to hormone therapy, it’s important to discuss all treatment options with your doctor so you can make an informed decision about the best path for you.