Keys to Cancer Survival: Controlling Stress, Anxiety, Depression

Cancer is about survival. One key to your long-term survival is…YOU.

“One in 3 people with cancer also struggles with anxiety or depression, according to a new study,” says McLeod Oncologist Dr. Rajesh Bajaj. “The study also found that breast cancer patients were twice as likely to suffer unusual mental stress than other cancer patients. Not surprising, when you factor in the issues of breast surgery and reconstruction.”

In the worst case scenario, you might slide into an “adjustment disorder,” leaving you unable to function on a daily basis or maintain relationships with those around you.

In addition, you should not feel ashamed for seeking help from your physician if you or a relative with cancer are experiencing anxiety, incapacitating depression or feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.

Receiving help for your mental health, anxiety and depression can also help limit your cancer from spreading (metastasis).

Your physician or cancer specialist may suggest a variety of methods to reduce stress including:

  • Medications for treating anxiety and depression.
  • Relaxation, meditation and massage. Some cancer centers are offering spa services in or near the treatment centers.
  • Support groups  allow you to talk with others, who are dealing with similar feelings and problems.
  • Exercise and physical activity are always good for general health. One study found that men with cancer, who exercised enough to burn up to 12,600 calories a week, improved their likelihood by 50% of living longer than other cancer patients who burned only 2,100 calories a week.
    As a guide, 30-minutes of vigorous aerobic activity can burn between 500 to 700 calories. Thirty minutes of strength training burns about 100 calories. Swimming can burn about 500 to 700 calories an hour, depending on which stroke you are using.
    Even if you can’t add up enough exercise to burn 12,600 calories a week, any physical activity you do will help. Just remember to check with your doctor before beginning a workout routine.

Cancer can attack you both physically and mentally. Your specialists can help overcome the physical side of cancer. You need to be aware of and be ready to seek help for the mental side effects, building your whole person into a healthy survivor.

Have a question?  Ask a Cancer Specialist.

Sources include:  McLeod Health, National Institutes of Health, Journal of Physical Activity & Health, Journal of Clinical Investigation, American Cancer Society