NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - The results of a new study
provide no evidence to support the notion that patients with
cancer can influence the course or outcome of their cancer by
making changes to improve their emotional well-being or, in
particular, that psychotherapy can help them live longer.
Of 1,093 head and neck cancer patients who provided
information on their emotional health during their cancer
treatment, Dr. James C. Coyne of the University of
Pennsylvania, Philadelphia and colleagues found that emotional
well-being was not a predictor of survival.
Altogether, 646 patients died during the 1992-2000 study
and emotional status was not related to survival, even after
adjusting for several other factors like gender,
characteristics or stage of the tumor, the team reports in the
Emotional status "neither directly affected progression or
death nor functioned as a lurking variable," Coyne and
Based on this study and the published literature, credible
evidence that cancer patients' participation in psychotherapy
or support groups prolongs their lives is lacking, they note.
In a recent issue of Psychological Bulletin, Dr. Coyne
wrote: "The hope that we can fight cancer by influencing
emotional states appears to have been misplaced."
"If cancer patients want psychotherapy or to be in a
support group," he went on to say, "they should be given the
opportunity to do so. There can be lots of emotional and social
benefits. But they should not seek such experiences solely on
the expectation that they are extending their lives."
SOURCE: Cancer, online October 22, 2007.