Explaining the Connection Between Cancer and Mental Illness

cancerReceiving a diagnosis of cancer is often regarded as a life-changing event.  Cancer is strongly associated with extensive treatments, frequent visits to the hospital, and modifications in lifestyle behaviors.  There is also the fear that one’s life may be shortened due to the presence of cancer.  For some individuals, this fear of cancer may be so strong that they would rather not know that they have this dreaded disease.

The Stigma of Cancer and Mental Illness


Despite the stigma of cancer, it is yet important to understand that this condition may also be addressed using a positive approach.  Every patient, together with his or her family, must understand the causes of cancer and how cancer cells are generated in the body.  It would also be helpful to know what activities and exposures may increase cancer risk.  When equipped with this knowledge, people may re-design their lifestyles and avoid certain habits that induce the production of cancer cells.  For example, lung cancer is associated with smoking and thus in order to reduce lung cancer risk, a smoker may want to stop smoking.

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Cancer and Other Mental Illness and Mental Health Conditions

Another important aspect that people should know is the link between cancer and mental health.  According to a recent medical report, patients with cancer may experience high levels of anxiety and distress, which may later result in mental problems.  The report is based on the findings conducted on approximately thirteen patients who were diagnosed with colorectal cancer.  These study participants were interviewed face-to-face to determine whether these individuals were suffering from symptoms of distress and other mental health conditions.

The results of the study showed that the study participants were experiencing distress, which generally seen in the form of at least nine different symptoms.  These included the feeling of tiredness and a change in the bowel movement.  Distress has also been seen among the patients based on the deterioration in the general wellbeing.  There are also observations of nausea among the patients, as well as a loss of appetite.

Cancer Cells and Treatment – Mental Illness

The report discussed that the condition of having a tumor in the body may also affect the physical characteristics of a patient.  More specifically, undergoing surgery and chemotherapy to remove any cancer cells often results in changes in the physical features of a patient.  It is also possible that the cancer risk of the patient may have been decreased after the treatments.  However, the idea of having a malignancy may also impart a huge effect on the patient and this may show as changes in the mental health condition of the individual.

It is important to provide both physical and mental support for patients who are receiving treatment and undergoing recovery.  These forms of support helps the body and mind to improve and possibly to continue on with their lives.  The medical report has shown findings of a study conducted on the degree of distress and mental fatigue that patients undergo as they receive treatment against cancer cells.  Receiving treatment may also decrease cancer risk and hopefully lengthen the life span of an individual.  It may also be helpful for patients to receive counseling during their treatment in order to decrease the mental burden that they carry during this difficult stage of their lives.

Decreasing Cancer Risk – Family Support


Family members and friends may also extend support to a patient and these acts may help in letting them know that they are not alone as they struggle to be cured from a severe medical condition.  Leading a healthy lifestyle, including eating nutritious food items, engaging in exercise, and getting enough rest, may also help in their recovery.  It is also possible for patients to receive counseling from a certified counselor on measures on how to deal with these life-changing conditions.