While discussing with people, if you tell any of the followings, chances are very few will show any concern, most of them may disagree, even be surprised and some may even hold you to a debate. Ask them if they knew that:
▪ There are more skin cancer cases due to indoor tanning than lung cancer cases due to smoking
▪ More than half of all cancers are preventable
▪ More than half of cancer patients face some sort of stress
▪ Studies indicate a link between various psychological factors and an increased risk of developing cancer but not all studies.
Let us understand stress, a complex process that is guided by environmental and psychosocial factors which initiate a bunch of information processing in both the Peripheral & Central nervous systems. Like any patient, a cancer patient also faces so many anxieties, unanswered questions, or uncertainty about the diagnosis/treatment. Cancer-related distress is defined as an “unpleasant emotional experience of a psychological, social or spiritual nature that may interfere with the ability to cope effectively with cancer, its physical symptoms, and its treatment. Several factors can cause stress during the cancer experience; a cancer diagnosis itself is a strong stressor associated with “disbelief, anxiety, depression, and disturbances of sleep, appetite, and routine daily activities. In addition to uncertainty about the disease and its treatment, there is also fear of death, disease progression, reduction in quality of life and relationships, a loss of sense of control, and impacts on decision-making ability for treatment compliance. Cancer patients experience a broad spectrum of symptoms such as pain, anxiety, depression, fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, and wasting. Regardless of the treatment regimen, distressing symptoms such as fatigue, insomnia, pain, depression, hot flashes, sexual dysfunction, and cognitive deficits frequently occur and often persist following treatment. Overall, cancer diagnosis creates a vicious and compounding cycle of stress. Predictable Stressors are sometimes avoidable, the following tips may help in reducing & managing stress, Relaxation:
- Avoid scheduling conflicts.
- Be aware of your limits. Ask for help.
- Prioritize your tasks Break down tasks into smaller steps.
- Concentrate your efforts on things that can be controlled.
- Get help with financial problems.
- Exercise regularly & Schedule daily relaxing time.
- Spend time outside with scheduled social activities.
- Eat well, and get plenty of sleep.
- Join a support group, and do things you enjoy (Write in a journal, Learn a new hobby
- Relaxed or deep breathing / Progressive muscle relaxation
- Mental imagery or visualization
- Meditation, Yoga
So falling under stress which could be acute (short-lived) or chronic (repetitive or occurring over an extended period of time) causes deleterious downstream effects on the regulation of stress response systems as well as many organ systems. A variety of stressors like severe trauma, marital discord, and bereavement as well as depression and social isolation have been found to be associated with deregulation or alterations in various neuroendocrine hormones.
According to experts, there is a connection between stress, inflammation,
and cancer—especially in people who already have the disease. Hence, cancer patients should focus on changing their lifestyle to reduce stress, which may help to improve their overall health and lower their risk of certain cancers.