What is the impact of psychotherapy on cancer patient's survival?

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Sobesto, Milena
Issue Date
Higher Diploma in Arts in Counselling and Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
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Cancer is considered as one of the top causes of deaths around the world with 8.2 million deaths in 2012, its global burden has more than doubled during the last 30 years. The WHO predicts that cancer deaths will increase from 14 million to 22 million in the next 20 years. It is a fact that cancer diagnosis is a life changing experience for the patient as well as their families with huge involvement of the doctors and health professionals. There are over 200 different types of diseases which come under the term 'cancer' and involve growth and division of body cells in an uncontrolled way. This shocking news usually is accompanied by huge devastation to a person on psychological, spiritual and physical levels. It was proven that most people diagnosed with cancer need the best support they can receive. Psychotherapy became one of the best recognisable sources as it offers the cancer patient a place to express their worries and a help to regain hope to live as some people start to separate themselves from society after the diagnosis. The newly established field of psycho-oncology unites different disciplines such as doctors, nurses, psychotherapists etc. who work with people with cancer helping them deal with their illness. This research was set to find out if psychotherapy prolongs life of cancer patients. It included evaluation of the important role of psychotherapy in psycho-oncology and examined the studies as Spiegel, et al (1989) and Goodwin, et al, (2001) who looked at the survival rates of cancer patient who underwent psychotherapy. Interestingly many studies set to investigate whether psychotherapy increases survival proved it negatively, however a positive endpoint was the fact that the quality of life has been improved in several cases.