According to a study published in the Feb. 20 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology adults with cancer can experience improvements in their emotional distress levels and in their quality of life through the use of psycho-oncologic interventions, such as relaxation, individual and group psychotherapy, and psychoeducation.

Hermann Faller, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Würzburg in Germany, and colleagues searched the literature and identified 198 studies involving 22,238 patients with the goal of examing the effects of psycho-oncologic interventions on emotional distress and quality of life in adult cancer patients.

The researchers found that individual and group psychotherapy and psychoeducation interventions were associated with significant small-to-medium effects, which were partially sustained in the medium (six months or less) and long term (longer than six months). Relaxation training had a short-term effect. At post-treatment, larger effects were seen for participants who were preselected according to increased distress. Longer interventions correlated with more sustained effects.

For some effects, particularly with individual psychotherapy and relaxation training, there was evidence of small-sample bias.
“Various types of psycho-oncologic interventions are associated with significant, small-to-medium effects on emotional distress and quality of life,” the authors write. “These results should be interpreted with caution, however, because of the low quality of reporting in many of the trials.”

BOTTOM LINE- Men with advanced prostate cancer as well as any adult diagnosed with any form of cancer should seek help in dealing with cancer beyond just medical assistance in fighting the cancer. This includes relaxation training, meditation and therapy. Dealing with a cancer diagnosis is hard and there are things we can do to help mediate the strain.

Joel T. Nowak, M.A., M.S.W.