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Conquering One Big Cancer Effect: Fear

Conquering One Big Cancer Effect: Fear
June 14
10:16 2017

(HealthDay News) — Cancer can be a frightening, nerve-wracking disease, and medical science often overlooks the emotional toll it takes on patients.

Now, a trio of new studies shows that three therapy programs can help people deal with the turmoil and stress of cancer.

One study focused on a brief series of therapy sessions developed by Canadian researchers to help patients with advanced cancer manage the practical and emotional problems they face.

That program, called CALM, consists of three to six 45- to 60-minute sessions delivered by trained health care professionals.

CALM sessions focus on ways to best handle health care decisions, personal relationships and fears related to the end of life, said lead researcher Dr. Gary Rodin, head of supportive care at the Princess Margaret Cancer Center in Toronto.

“These are challenges that patients and families predictably have to face, and there can be a lot of distress around them, a lot of anxiety, a lot of fear, a lot of sadness,” Rodin said. “And yet there hasn’t been a systematic approach to help patients deal with this.”

To test CALM’s effectiveness, Rodin and his colleagues conducted a clinical trial involving 305 patients with advanced cancer.

Within three months, CALM therapy had caused a clinically important reduction in symptoms of depression for 52 percent of patients, compared with 33 percent of patients who received usual care, the researchers reported.

“Not only did it cause a reduction in depressive symptoms, but those who received the treatment were less likely to become depressed,” Rodin said.

Health care professionals in more than 20 countries have been trained in CALM procedures, Rodin said, and its developers are organizing a global training network.

The second study involved therapy developed by Australian researchers to help cancer survivors deal with the fear of their cancer coming back.

The therapy, called Conquer Fear, involves five individual sessions over 10 weeks. Cancer survivors learn techniques to control their worry, accept the inherent uncertainty of cancer recurrence, and to redirect their focus on what they want to get out of life.

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