Hypnosis and Cancer
Although cancer is seen as a physical disease that involves the uncontrolled growth of malignant cells in the body, it is so much more than this, because it also involves your thoughts, feelings and behaviours. It even involves your lifestyle and social relationships.
As a result, while it is very important to have surgery and undergo chemotherapy (if these are the appropriate medical treatments for your type of cancer), true healing requires much more than this. Because it also requires you to heal your life.
This is why hypnosis can help you in so many different ways.
It can help you regain control of your life. It can help you make the necessary lifestyle changes you need to make. It can help you feel more positive and joyful about life. It can allieviate your pain, reduce your need for medication, help you to recover more quickly from surgery and chemotherapy treatments, and cope more effectively with the social and psychological dimensions of your illness. It has even been scientifically proven to improve your immune system and increase the cancer-fighting killer T-cells in your body.
There is even some evidence that shows there may be a link between certain traumatic events, particularly those that took place in early childhood, and the later development of cancer. And this is where hypnosis really helps, because it is the most effective way to heal any deeply suppressed feelings. Particularly those involving hurt and pain
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Cancer Fact Sheet
There are many types of cancer. They all involve malignant cells that have suddenly started growing uncontrollably and invading other cells. In the later stages, cancer spreads to other parts of the body as it metastisizies.
- carcinogens (cancer causing substances such as tobacco smoke, heavy consumption of alcohol, too much exposure to the sun, asbestos fiber, pollution etc.)
- a mutation in a cell when it divides (this is linked to aging);
- heredity and genetics (for instance, the gene for a predisposition to breast cancer can be passed from mother to daughter);
- a compromised immune system (that isn't able to quickly eradicate any malignant cells);
- infectious bacterial or viral agents (the HPV virus is sexually transmitted and causes genital warts that can become cancerous).
The symptoms of cancer can vary widely depending on where it is located in the body, the size of the tumor and if it has spread. However, the most common are:
- unusual swelling or lumps;
- swollen lymph nodes or glands;
- unexplained pain;
- rapid weight loss and a lack of appetite;
- a change in bowel habits (including blood in the stool);
- a change in urine habits (including blood in the urine);
- anemia (lack of iron in the blood);
- fatigue and tiredness;
- night sweats or fever;
- changes in the shape and size of warts and moles;
- sores that do not heal properly;
- hoarseness in the throat;
- problems swallowing;
How Hypnosis Can Help You
If you have cancer, hypnosis is ideally suited to helping you deal with this condition because:
- it can increase your feelings of self-control;
- it can improve your ability to follow sound medical advice and work with your physicians;
- it can reduce your feelings of pain, fatigue and insomnia and lower the need for medication to manage these symptoms (thereby reducing their potential side-effects and saving you money);
- it can alleviate harmful emotions such as stress, anxiety and depression;
- it can make you feel more positive and joyful about life;
- it can increase your ability to resume everyday activities;
- it can enhance your innate capacity to heal yourself;
- it can help you reduce the side-effects of drugs and chemotherapy such as nausea, vomiting, hair-loss and a lack of appetite;
- it can enhance the outcome of surgery and quicken your ability to heal afterwards;
- it can help you deal with the psychological and social dimensions of cancer;
- it can enhance your ability to communicate with your body and do things like boosting your immune system;
- it allows your more intuitive dimension to operate which can lead to deep insights and a reorganization of thoughts and emotions and improve your will to live.
Some Research That Proves These Claims...
The scientific research is conclusive. If you are capable of entering into a moderately deep state of hypnosis (something 70% of the population can achieve), then hypnosis can help you. Here is a summation of some of these studies...
Effect of Psychosocial Treatment on Survival of Patients With Metastatic Breast Cancer. Lancet. 1989 Oct 14;2(8668):888-91. Spiegel D, Bloom JR, Kraemer HC, Gottheil E.
Eighty-six patients with metastatic breast cancer who participated in a study on the effects of self-hypnosis on nausea and vomiting were tracked down 10 years later. Eight-three had died and only three were still living. However, when the researchers located the death certificates of the 83 they found something startling. The women in the study were divided in two groups, a control group which received normal care, and a group which was taught to use hypnosis. The mean survival in the control group was18.9 months, while the mean survival for those in the hypnosis group was 36.6 months or nearly twice as long.
Early Childhood Emotional Trauma: An Important Factor in the Aetiology of Cancer and Other Diseases. European Journal of Clinical Hypnosis Vol. 7(2). Harris GA.
This research paper explores the evidence that links early childhood trauma (which must occur before the age of 7 or 8) to the development of cancer later in life. The author claims that this trauma causes the child to repress certain emotions. This repression then acts like a "time bomb" that can be triggered by events later in life. When this happens, it leads to the suppression of the immune system. This then allows diseases such as cancer to arise. The author goes on to say that the immune system can be reactivated if the trauma and its underlying emotional impact is properly dealt with and resolved. The easiest way of doing this is through the use of hypnotic age regression techniques.
Efficacy of Hypnotherapy as a Supplement Therapy in Cancer Intervention.European Journal of Clinical Hypnosis. Vol. 6(1). Peynovska R, Fisher J, Oliver D, Mathew VM.
This paper reports on the use of hypnosis to help terminally ill hospice patients suffering from cancer. Participants were given three individually tailored hypnosis sessions. These sessions revolved around 4 themes: The management of emotions such as anger, frustration, depression and anxiety; the management of physical symptoms such as pain, insomnia and exhaustion; the management of the side-effects of their treatment (such as the nausea that accompanies chemotherapy); and the use of visualization to increase feelings of health and wellbeing.
Hypnosis for Nausea and Vomiting in Cancer Chemotherapy: A Systematic Review of the Research Evidence. Eur J Cancer Care, Sept 2007; 16(5): 402-12. Richardson J, Smith J E, McCall G, Richardson A, Pilkington K, Kirsch I.
This study involved a review of six research studies (five which involved children) on the ability of hypnosis to relieve the nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy in cancer patients. The researchers found that hypnosis can play a significant role in reducing both anticipatory nausea and chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.
Hypnosis in the Treament of Anticipatory Nausea and Vomiting in Patients Receiving Cancer Chemotherapy. Oncology 2000;59:100-104 Marchioroa G, Azzarellob G, Vivianic F, Barbatoa F, Pavanettoa M, Rosettib F, Pappagallob GL, Vinanteb O.
Not only can cancer patients experience nausea and vomiting after their chemotherapy sessions, but they can even begin to experience these symptoms before their sessions. This is referred to as anticipatory nausea and vomiting. This study examined the effect that a relaxation induction followed by hypnosis had on 16 adult cancer patients who had all previously experienced anticipatory nausea and vomiting. All 16 patients stopped experiencing anticipatory nausea and vomiting with the aid of hypnosis.
A Randomized Trial of Self-Hypnosis to Control Nausea in Women Receiving Moderate Emetogenic Chemotherapy. Journal of Clinical Oncology 2005 Annual Meeting Proceedings. Vol 23, No. 165 (June Supplement), 2005: 8182. Hurley R, Trezona P, Peczalska E, Jirik C, Anderson E, Heinrich R.
The control of nausea during chemotherapy for cancer usually requires costly anti-emetic (anti-vomiting) drugs. Twenty-five women suffering from lung, ovarian or breast cancer were recruited for this study and randomly placed into a control or a hypnosis group. The hypnosis group were given two 1-hour sessions where they were taught relaxation and self-hypnosis exercises. Both groups received medication to reduce nausea and vomiting, however those in the relaxation/self-hypnosis, not only tended to take less medication (though not by a statistically significant amount) they also felt significantly less nauseas then the control group. As a result, this study concluded that self-hypnosis can reduce the nausea associated with chemotherapy and may even reduce the use of anti-vomiting medication.
Hypnosis in the Prevention Of Chemotherapy-Related Nausea and Vomiting In Children: A Prospective Study. J Dev Behav Pediatr 1994 Aug;15(4):258-64. Jacknow DS, Tschann JM, Link MP, Boyce WT.
Twenty patients receiving chemotherapy to treat cancer were randomly assigned to either a hypnosis or a control group. The control group received the normal anti-vomiting medication, while the hypnosis group relied primarily on the use of hypnosis to control any nausea and vomiting and only received medication if they needed it. Both groups experienced the same amount of nausea and vomiting as a result of the chemotherapy sessions. However, the group using hypnosis required significantly less medication to achieve this. This study also found that those in the group using hypnosis also experienced less anticipatory nausea and vomiting than those in the control group.
A Randomized Clinical Trial of A Brief Hypnosis Intervention to Control Side Effects in Breast Surgery Patients. Journal of the National Cancer Institute 2007 99(17):1304-1312. Montgomery GH, Bovbjerg DH, Schnur JB, David D, Goldfarb A, Weltz CR, Schechter C, Graff-Zivin J, Tatrow K, Price DD, Silverstein JH.
Two hundred patients who were due to have surgery on their breasts were randomly assigned to a control group (who had people pay attention to them and listen to their concerns before they had surgery), and to a group that received a single 15-minute hypnosis session prior to surgery. This study found that not only did those who received hypnosis require less medication (propofol and lidocaine), they also reported experiencing less ''pain, nausea, fatigue, discomfort and emotional upset'' then the control group. It was further determined that patients in the hypnosis group also saved the hospital an average of $772.71 because they required less time in surgery.
Hypnotic Control of Anticipatory Emesis in Patients Receiving Cancer Chemotherapy. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. Vol 50(1), Feb 1982, 14-19. Redd WH, Andersen GV, Minagawa RY.
Six female patients, aged 24 to 56 years old, who were undergoing chemotherapy and were experiencing anticipatory vomiting were given “deep muscle relaxation hypnosis.” It was found that this form of hypnosis helped all of them to control this condition.