Behavioral therapy for cancer treatment: An alternative approach


Behavioral therapy for cancer treatment- An alternative approachBehavioral therapy is a form of treatment that is more focused on how a person behaves and seeks to remove an unwanted behavior. This therapy is used to overcome many challenges including addiction, anxiety, phobias, OCD, and is now being used to cope with cancer. Behavioral therapy is action based therapy; Behavioral therapy builds on a theory that the behavior can be learned and unlearned, and the thoughts and feelings leading up to a particular behavior are also important. Behavioral therapy for cancer treatment is used to foster positive change in the patients dealing with cancer and has been shown to improve resilience in these patients.

How does behavior therapy work?

Behavior therapy is a form of psychological therapy that works to alter several ways that might be harmful or causing negativity in individual’s life. Behavior therapy goes to the bottom of behavior formation patterns. It deals with emotions and experience that form an individual behavior and drives it. Behavior therapy is helpful in some psychiatric disorders. Behavioral therapy for cancer treatment is helpful in ensuring compliance of patient and also shifting the emotions and thoughts that drive the patient’s behavior. It leads to decrease the incidence of depression, disability, and reliance. Behavior therapy also helps forms coping mechanism in cancer patients.

Where is Behavior therapy found?

Behavior therapy in cancer treatment patients is a complementary form of treatment that is now carried out in several cancer eradication programs. Usually, psychologists perform behavioral therapy sessions with the patient to work on specific objectively measurable goals. Behavior therapy is held in both public hospitals and private settings as well. It is being offered in group settings and on one to one basis. However behavioral therapy in cancer treatment is carried out in group settings as it gives a sense of community and several groups of people striving for the same behavior adjustment gives support to one another.

Advantages of behavior therapy with different kinds of cancers

Cancer is not only an organic pathology but cancer also causes a toll on the mental and psychological well-being of the individual affected. No matter what type of cancer does the person have, it causes stress, fear, anxiety, disbelief, grief, and fear. Fear itself causes apprehension about the disease and the success of the treatment. Doubt about the treatment and its success rate affect the compliance of the patient and mental attitude towards treatment, leading to the counterproductive behavior of the patient. Stress and anxiety further complicate the problem. Behavior therapy in cancer treatment seeks to alleviate stress and anxiety of the patient regarding the disease and treatment and lifestyle changes accompanying the treatment. Behavioral therapy for cancer treatment aims to shift behavior and attitude of the patient and helps patients form productive behavior and deal with this challenge efficiently.

Does behavior therapy enhance the effect of chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy is a form of cancer treatment that involves introducing chemotherapeutic agents in the person’s body to fight off cancer cells. Chemotherapy has several side effects, but the most widely experienced and challenged are nausea and vomiting. Several anti-nausea drugs are given to relieves nausea and vomiting. However; these side effects are not controlled entirely. After few courses of chemotherapy, many patients develop these symptoms in anticipation. Behavioral therapy for cancer treatment is particularly useful. Progressive muscle relaxation training a subtype of behavioral therapy is effective in preventing and decreasing the frequency of post-chemotherapy nausea and vomiting. Systematic desensitization is also used. Systematic desensitization helps reduce the anticipation of nausea and vomiting. Hypnosis and cognitive distraction have also been used for children and adolescent.

Does behavior therapy enhance the effect of radiotherapy?

Radiotherapy is also a form of treatment that uses intense beams of radiation to kill cancer cells. Radiotherapy is used in the treatment of many types of cancers. Radiotherapy accompanies several side effects. Some side effects of radiation therapy in women undergoing radiation therapy include hot flashes and night sweats. Behavioral therapy for cancer treatment aims to decrease these side effects and helps patients cope with the side effects. The study, which was published in The Lancet Oncology, concludes that women undergoing breast cancer treatment who receive behavioral therapy reported 46% reduction in severity of symptoms. These effects of behavioral therapy lasted longer than the treatment period. Even after 26 weeks of treatment women who had undergone behavioral therapy reported less severity of symptoms.

Can behavior therapy reduce the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation?

Chemo and radiation therapy are the mainstays of cancer treatment, but they do have considerable side effects. Behavior therapy for cancer patients has been shown to decrease fatigue and insomnia associated with cancer treatment. Behavior therapy helps in shaping behavior that leads to increased amount of sleep up to 6 months after treatment and is clinically useful. Depression is seen commonly among cancer patients as well as stress and anxiety. Behavioral therapy for cancer treatment aims at treating these side effects and psychological impact of cancer helping the individual deal with particular anxieties related with cancer and without cancer and can be used to cope with the treatment that the patients need to undergo. Behavior therapy is also used in the treatment of pain management. Behavioral therapy for cancer treatment is used to deal with the pain that occurs in various stages of cancer. In patients who are in pain during cancer or its treatment, hypnosis and cognitive behavioral therapy are used.

Does behavior therapy increase the quality of life and survival rate?

Cancer and its treatment have a tremendous impact on quality of life emotional health. Behavior therapy in cancer patients helps increase the quality of life of these patients, decrease disability and improve survival rates.

References:

Behavioral Therapy Eases Side-Effects from Breast Cancer Treatment

Coping with cancer

Guidelines for Treatment of Cancer Pain

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in Cancer Patients

Dr. Adem Gunes Dr. Adem Gunes has built the world’s largest database of scientifically tested natural substances with proven effects in cancer treatments. In 2009, he was appointed as the Chief Physician of ProLife Clinic in Innsbruck, Austria, and played a key role in the establishment of the research laboratory. He is also the co-founder of the first Austrian hyperthermia center. Now, Dr. Adem works closely with cancer patients from around the world (including Germany, Thailand, Dubai) to recommend them a complementary cancer clinic or to create a personalized care plan for patients to follow at home.

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