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  1. Home /
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Cancer and Mental Health

Understand how cancer affects emotions and find ways to feel better. Let's explore how cancer and mental health are connected to help you cope.

  • Cancer
By Aliya Anchan 17th Apr '24 18th Apr '24
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Did you know that about one out of every three people with cancer also has to deal with tough emotions like anxiety and depression?

Finding out you have cancer can shake you up. You might feel scared about what will happen next, worried about pain, or nervous about the future. These feelings are very normal and many people feel them too. Knowing that it’s okay to feel this way is a big step in handling these emotions better.

According to the Global Cancer Observatory, approximately 20 million new cancer cases were diagnosed in 2022, resulting in 9.7 million deaths worldwide. These staggering numbers highlight the immense impact of cancer on individuals and communities across the globe

Cancer, a challenging condition that affects millions of lives worldwide, not only wreaks havoc on the body but also casts a shadow over mental well-being. The intersection of cancer and mental health is a critical area of concern. It impacts patients, their families, and caregivers. Up to 40% of people with cancer feel a big impact on their emotional state. It's really important to see how treating the body and the mind together can help someone feel better overall. In this blog, we delve into the profound effects of cancer on mental health.

Let's talk more about this and find some good ways to bring hope and comfort.

Reach out to a doctor or counselor for support if you're feeling down or anxious. Contact us for assistance.

Common Mental Health Challenges During Cancer Treatment 

Girl looking away while sitting against wall

Dealing with cancer treatment means you're handling a lot more than just physical health issues. It's normal to feel anxious or sad as part of the cancer and mental health journey. You might worry about how the treatment will affect you or feel stressed about medical bills. It's really important to remember that you're not alone in feeling this way. Traditionally, cancer care has focused primarily on physical aspects, but there is growing recognition of the mental dimensions and the need to support all those involved.

Approximately 20–25% of patients and 13–58% of caregivers are diagnosed with AD—a psychological disorder associated with depression, reduced quality of life, and even the risk of suicide. The emotional toll of cancer extends beyond the patient, affecting their loved ones profoundly.

According to recent studies,

  • about 1 in 4 people with cancer experience significant anxiety 
  • while around 1 in 5 may feel deeply sad during their treatment.

Spotting these feelings early can help a lot in managing them and making your journey a bit easier.

If you're feeling anxious or very sad, it's important to talk about it with your doctors. They can help you get the support you need.

flat design illustration for world mental health day background

Taking care of your mind is as important as treating your body. When you're going through cancer treatment, feeling mentally strong and supported can make a big difference. Keeping your spirits up helps you handle the tough days and can even make your body respond better to treatment. It's all about balancing healing your body with caring for your mind.

Keep in touch with your feelings. Talk to someone you trust about what you're going through, whether it's a friend or a therapist.

Why does mental health matter for the physical recovery of cancer patients?

Let's explore why mental health matters for the physical recovery of cancer patients:

  1. Treatment Challenges: Mental health affects how well a person copes with cancer treatment. Depression and anxiety may hinder recovery. When our emotional well-being suffers, it can impact our physical healing too.
  2. Quality of Life: Good mental health contributes to a better quality of life. When patients feel emotionally supported, they are more likely to adhere to treatment plans, manage side effects, and maintain hope.
  3. Survival: Research shows that mental health plays a role in survival. People without prior psychiatric history face an increased risk of common mental disorders after a cancer diagnosis. Addressing mental health needs is crucial for overall well-being.
  4. Comprehensive Approach: To optimize healing potential, we must consider physical and emotional aspects. Providing support, counselling, and addressing mental health alongside cancer treatment is essential.

If you're dealing with cancer, being in a good mental space can help your body fight off illness better. Stress can slow down healing and make treatments less effective. That's why doctors now focus as much on the mental health of cancer patients as they do on their physical health—both are crucial to your recovery.

Make mental health a priority. Seek help if you're feeling stressed or sad; it's crucial for your healing journey. Contact us for support.

Mental Growth Contemplative Figure with Flower Burst

Don’t overlook your mental health; integrate mental health care with your treatment plan by consulting your healthcare team, including a doctor or counselor. Contact us for assistance.

Coping Strategies and Support

It's okay to need a little help managing your feelings. When you're dealing with cancer, feeling anxious or sad can be common, but there are ways to feel better. 

Here are some simple steps to help manage these emotions:

  1. Routine is your friend: Try to keep a regular schedule. It can make your day feel more manageable.
  2. Stay active: Light exercise, like walking or yoga, can boost your mood.
  3. Connect with others: Talking to friends or joining a support group can remind you that you're not alone.
  4. Importance of Open Communication: Open communication with your healthcare team can mitigate the psychological effects of cancer. Talking clearly and often with your doctors and nurses helps a lot. When they know how you're feeling, both physically and mentally, they can tailor your treatment better. This might mean adjusting your medication to help with side effects or providing resources for emotional support. Being open about your feelings can make your treatment more effective and less stressful.

Try these tips to help manage your anxiety and depression. Remember, small steps can make a big difference.

Business people dealing new idea. stand on column charts. The concept of business goals, success, satisfying achievement.

Next time you see your doctor, share how you've been feeling. It’s an important part of your care.

Resources for Mental Health Support During and After Treatment

Support is crucial, both during and after cancer treatment, to address the psychological effects of cancer. Here are some valuable resources:

  • Mental health professionals: Psychologists and therapists can offer strategies to cope with cancer-related stress.
  • Support groups: Connecting with others who understand what you’re going through can be incredibly comforting.
  • Online resources: Websites and online forums offer advice and community at any time of day or night.


Tiny people sitting and standing near giant FAQ

Is it normal to feel anxious or depressed after a cancer diagnosis? 

Yes, it's very common and understandable given the significant life changes and uncertainties involved.

What are some signs of anxiety or depression during cancer treatment? 

Common symptoms include persistent sadness, loss of interest in favorite activities, excessive worry, and changes in sleep patterns.

What can I do to improve my mental health while dealing with cancer?

Staying active, maintaining social connections, and seeking professional mental health support can greatly help.

What resources are available for mental health support during cancer treatment? 

Many hospitals offer counseling, and organizations like the American Cancer Society provide support groups and resources.

How can I talk to my doctor about my mental health concerns? 

Be open and honest about your feelings, and ask for referrals to mental health professionals if needed.


ASCO Meetings

The Impact of Cancer on Mental Health | Psychology Today

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Question and Answers

Sir my mother has been affected by peri ampullary carcinoma. She is 45 years old now. I need help from you. In the world i don't have anyone except my mother.

Female | 45

This form of cancer causes symptoms such as jaundice, weight loss, and belly pain. It starts when cells near the ampulla of Vater begin growing out of control. Treatment typically involves surgery followed by chemotherapy. You must collaborate closely with her physician to determine the most effective course of action for your mother. Be strong and be there for her during this difficult time.

Answered on 10th June '24

Dr. Sridhar Susheela

Dr. Sridhar Susheela

Does cancer come back in everyone who is cured after treatment?

Male | 22

When an individual undergoes treatment and the disease fades away, it’s a relief. Nonetheless, there are times when it recurs after going into remission. It is contingent on the kind of malignancy one has as well as the method used for healing it. Signs that can indicate its reoccurrence may be similar to those experienced during the first onset such as unexplained weight loss, fatigue, or formation of new masses. To avoid its resurgence, you need to keep seeing your doctor for regular checkups besides living healthily. 

Answered on 11th June '24

Dr. Sridhar Susheela

Dr. Sridhar Susheela

He is infected of perenial fistula. And for years ,almost 9 surgeries was operated for him. And his colonscopy result before 1 and half year said normal. But now when MRI is taken ,shows some small tumors and may be T4N1MX adenocarcinoma cancer IS created but the other results like colonoscopy says normal , biopsy result says non diagnostic, CT SCAN result says it is better for him to take the test after 6 months, the blood test says normal and other organs like kidney, liver...are all normal. He has normal medical result apart from the cancer and now he is taking chemiotherapy treatment so what shall I do

Male | 64

When you have adenocarcinoma, you must stick to the treatment plan your doctor gives you. Chemotherapy is used often for treating this type of cancer. Just try to follow the treatment schedule, eat well, and get enough rest. 

Answered on 6th June '24

Dr. Ganesh Nagarajan

Dr. Ganesh Nagarajan

I am suffering from severe stomach pain due to colon cancer stage 4, any medicine for pain relief

Male | 53

This pain occurs because the tumor is pressing on your belly inside. To relieve it, the doctor can prescribe you stronger drugs than those sold in the drugstore. These medicines are designed to ease the pain and make you comfortable. Keep telling your doctor how you feel so that they can change the medication when necessary to control the pain effectively.

Answered on 23rd May '24

Dr. Sridhar Susheela

Dr. Sridhar Susheela

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