Cancer and Psychological Factors Presented by Ana Freire and Ayana Motegi
Introduction • Who gets cancer? • What types of cancer are likely to develop? • What are the risk factors for cancer?
Who Gets Cancer? • 1/2 of all men and 1/3 of all women in the US will develop cancer during their lifetimes. • About 80% of all cancers occur in people over the age of 55. • More than 1500 people die of cancer everyday.
MALE Prostate 30% (189,000) Lung & bronchus 14% (90,200) Colon & rectum 11% (72,600) Urinary bladder 7% (41,500) FEMALE Breast 31% (203,500) Lung & bronchus 12% (79,200) Colon & rectum 12% (75,700) Uterine Corpus 6% (39,300) What Types of Cancer Are Likely to Develop?(cancer cases by site & sex)
What are the Risk factors for Cancer? • Environment • Genetics • Nutrition • Psychology/Personality
Environmental risk Factors • Smoking • Chemicals (benzene, asbestos, vinyl chloride) • Radiation (IR, UV) • Unproven risks—pesticides, electromagnetic fields (microwaves and cell phones), toxic wastes, and nuclear power plant
Genetic Risk factors • Close genetic relationship to people with a history of cancer (sister, brother, parents, and possibly grandparents) Example: women with a first degree (mother, sister, or daughter) family history are about 2 times more likely to develop breast cancer than women who do not have a family history of the disease.
Nutritive Risk Factors • Diets heavy in animal fats • Alcohol • High simple carbohydrate • Processed foods • Low intake of fibers, fruits, and vegetables
CANCER: PSYCHOLOGICAL FACTORS • Personality: emotions, coping mechanisms, how the person responds to stress and deals with it, etc. • Psychological factors are important to take into consideration BEFORE and AFTER cancer is diagnosed: • BEFORE: for preventative purposes. • AFTER: as part of the treatment.
BEFORE • More than the number of stressful events that the person encountered throughout life, what is important is the way the person reacts to those stressors PERSONALITY. • Personality linked to cancer TYPE C PERSONALITY: • Denial and suppression of emotions, especially anger. • “Pathological niceness” • over-patience • harmonizing behavior • exaggerated social desirability • over-compliance • high rationality • rigid control of emotional expression (anti-emotionality)
When these fail to maintain harmony feelings of depression, helplessness and hopelessness. • If combined with other factors CANCER
AFTER • There are psychological reactions to: • Diagnosis: initial denial, anxiety, anger, mild depression; maladaptive: persitenece of denial, leading to refusal of further medical involvement, clinical depression, fatalistic beliefs, etc. • Treatment: anticipatory anxiety, fears about treatment; maladaptive: exaggerated pessimism, passivity leading to noncompliance with health-protective behaviors, etc.
RESEARCH • Research has proven that psychotherapy and support groups: • Improve quality of life of cancer patients (Fawzy, Linn) • Can potentially expand the patient’s life (Dr. David Spiegel) • An important effect responsible for these outcomes: Enhancement of the Immune System.
Type of INTERVENTION: • Building bonds of support between patients. • Coping strategies for stress and pain management. • Problem solving training (search information about their disease, second opinions, etc) • Helping people to express emotions. • Improving relationships with families and doctors.
CONCLUSION • Cancer is a multi-factorial disease. For this reason, its treatment should take into consideration all factors, and not just the physical one. Research is proving that a more holistic approach to cancer is more effective than the medical approach alone.