Acceptance of Prognosis Can Help Cancer Patients Cope

-- Jane Parry

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with advanced cancer are more likely to be depressed and anxious if they have not come to terms with their situation, according to a study published online Oct. 13 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Genevieve N. Thompson, Ph.D., a registered nurse from the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada, and colleagues conducted a study of 381 patients with advanced cancer who were expected to survive no more than six months and who were receiving palliative care.

The researchers found that, in all, 74 percent of participants said that they accepted their situation, while 8.6 percent said they had accepted it with moderate, if not extreme, difficulty. Those who had difficulty accepting their situation were more likely to have depression or anxiety, and were more likely to report extreme suffering and a feeling of hopelessness.

"This study provides a unique glimpse into the physical, psychological, social, and existential impact that acceptance/non-acceptance of a terminal prognosis has on patients with advanced cancer. The challenge of coming to terms with a terminal prognosis is a complex interplay between one's basic personality, the availability of social support, and ones spiritual and existential views on life," the authors write. "For those with limited social networks, identifying someone the patient can rely on to discuss these issues is important."

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