How much does the mind matter in the outcome of cancer?
Some believe that cancer can be conquered by the mind or that people get cancer because of some deep emotional need for it. Such thoughts can lead to needless feelings of guilt.
Others believe that the mind has no role at all. Yet, ignoring how to mentally and emotionally cope with disease and treatment is shortsighted. Body processes that are controlled by the nervous system can plausibly affect resistance to cancer. These include obvious processes like health-related behavior and adherence to treatment, but also less obvious processes within the hormonal, immune or autonomic nervous systems. Comprehensive medical care must take into account not only the biologic dimensions of an illness, but also the psychological and social factors that can affect the whole person.
"Curing cancer may not be a question of mind over matter, but mind does matter."
(Paraphrasing and quote from editorial by David Spiegel, M.D.,
New England Journal of Medicine 345:1767-1768, December 13, 2001)
- Support groups
- One-on-one counseling
- Guided Imagery
- Storytelling and expressive writing
- Art therapy
- Yoga, tai chi, qigong, dance
- Music Therapy
Availability at MD Anderson Cancer Center
For questions concerning the practice of mind-body approaches at MD Anderson, please visit the Integrative Medicine Center Services web page.
Additional support and understanding at MD Anderson are offered by:
- The Anderson Network of current and former patients with cancer
- The Chaplaincy of many different faiths and denominations specifically trained to work with cancer patients and their families
- Social Work Patient Services for counseling and other special services
Special programs concerning these mind-body approaches are posted as they occur in Educational Programs and Events.