Learning to relax, cope extends cancer survival
By Julie Steenhuysen
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Working with a psychologist to reduce stress can help women whose breast cancer comes back survive longer, U.S. researchers said on Tuesday.
They said reducing stress during breast cancer treatment can keep the immune system strong and improve a woman's quality of life -- and these two factors help women live longer.
They found women who took part in a support group where they were taught to cope with their stress through relaxation techniques and problem solving lived an average of six months longer than other women.
"If you have someone who can provide effective, research-supported ways to reduce your stress, not only will that affect your mental health. It will likely affect your symptoms and your recovery," said Barbara Andersen, a psychology professor at Ohio State University in Columbus.
The study is rare because while it makes sense that therapy might ease some of the stress of cancer treatment, few studies have shown it can boost a woman's survival.
The findings appear in the journal Cancer Clinical Research.
The study included 227 women with newly diagnosed Stage II or III breast cancer.
Women in the study got either a psychological assessment or therapy that helped them understand their stress, learn ways to cope with it, stay on their cancer treatment, improve communication with their doctor and generally feel better emotionally during their treatment and recovery. Continued...