Benefits of Hypnotherapy for Cancer Patients

Hypnotherapy has so many benefits. Hypnotherapy has been proven beneficial for IBS, depression, PTSD, and so much more. But did you know that the supportive treatment option of hypnotherapy has many benefits that are specific to cancer patients? For example, a benefit of hypnotherapy for cancer is that it can help prevent it. Yes, that’s right. Hypnotherapy can help prevent cancer. Want to know how?

In this article, we’ll examine fifteen benefits of hypnotherapy in the hopes it will prepare you in making your cancer treatment plan. 

Why Include Hypnotherapy in a Cancer Treatment Plan

Some people ask why hypnotherapy should be included in a cancer treatment plan. The short answer is that hypnotherapy when used in a cancer treatment plan, builds tools for managing the physical, emotions, and mental, challenges of cancer. In essence, hypnotherapy is a method whose benefits can be experienced throughout the journey and battle cancer presents to people:

  • Prevention

  • Diagnosis

  • Treatment

  • Survivorship

Ready to dive into those fifteen benefits of hypnotherapy for cancer?

15 Benefits of Hypnotherapy for Cancer Patients

The fifteen benefits of hypnotherapy for cancer that we will be learning about today were selected because each has been backed by research as being a benefit of hypnotherapy.

1. Cancer Prevention

One of the first benefits of hypnotherapy for cancer is experienced before a person consciously perceived themselves as fighting a battle with cancer. The truth is, we are always in a battle with cancer.

The first step in the battle is prevention. Of course, you can help prevent cancer through:

  • Exercise

  • Nutrition

Hypnotherapy can also be a way of supporting cancer prevention. How? This one study found that both smoking and weight management challenges can act as a risk factor for developing cancer. Hypnotherapy is a facilitator of cancer prevention in that hypnotherapy has been proven to be beneficial for both weight loss and aiding stopping the habit of smoking.

Want to know more about how you can use hypnosis to stop smoking or lose weight and in turn decrease your risk for cancer development? Read: Hypnotherapy for Weight Loss and Hypnotherapy for Smoking Cessation

2. Cancer Diagnosis

No, cancer cannot be diagnosed through hypnotherapy. Although wouldn’t that be nice? To be able to diagnose cancer in such a non-invasive manner as hypnotherapy? The good news is that hypnotherapy can be beneficial to the diagnosis process for cancer.

Often times the first step in diagnosing cancer is usually a biopsy. This is not often a procedure that one looks forward to. Feelings are mostly high for:

  • Anticipation

  • Fear

  • Anxiety

In addition pre and post a biopsy, a person may experience:

  • Distress

  • Discomfort

  • Pain

All of these experiences can benefit from hypnotherapy during the diagnosis process. One study on this benefit of hypnotherapy for cancer was researched and this is what was found:

Pain and anxiety: When hypnotherapy is used for a biopsy, the patients undergoing the procedure experience less pain and anxiety compared to the standard care protocols and methods normally uses. This, in turn, leads to less discomfort and distress.

Cost anticipation: A person going into the hospital for a biopsy procedure has a lot to process, anticipating cost does not need to be one extra factor when they do. The cost of having hypnotherapy as a part of a biopsy procedure was not more than the costs associated with standard care — in fact, costs were slightly less.

3. Dealing with Fear

Hypnotherapy has been used to help people who have a fear of spiders and flying among others. But the fear associated with cancer is not the same. Flying and spiders are known elements. I am afraid of spiders. This statement can be comforting because what a person is afraid of is identifiable. With cancer, what a person will fear or should fear is unknown through many variables:

  • Type of cancer

  • Speed of cancer growth

  • Stage of cancer

  • Treatment options

  • Experience of cancer treatment

  • Effects of cancer treatment

  • Remission and cure percentage

  • Others

Hypnotherapy for fear during a battle with cancer can reduce levels of fear and build a person’s tools for managing fear as it arises in different situations in a battle with cancer. This was researched and supported by this study, especially for children diagnosed with cancer.

4. Handling Anxiety

Hypnotherapy has the ability to help with levels of anxiety. With cancer, anxiety can fluctuate from low to high. There are many situations that lead to fluctuating anxiety. Here are three questions that can lead to anxiety on the journey through a battle with cancer.

  1. What will happen next in my battle with cancer?

  2. What will this next treatment feel like?

  3. What side effects will I experience because of this treatment?

  4. I am in remission, but will my cancer return?

Each answer to these questions leads to different answers based on the individual person asking the questions. Because of this, the answers are always slightly different and play a role in anxiety levels with cancer patients.

Hypnotherapy is a benefit to cancer patients because it can alleviate and reduce the anxiety experienced. This study found that hypnotherapy not only helps with anxiety experienced by cancer patients but in helping cancer patients handle anxiety, hypnotherapy aids breast cancer survivors to manage and experience less hot flashes.

Want to know how hypnotherapy works for anxiety? Read more about Hypnotherapy for Anxiety.

5. Controlling Pain

Cancer can be a painful experience. There are cancer symptoms that can cause pain, there are also different aspects of cancer treatments including radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and surgery that can be painful. The way hypnotherapy works, it has an impact on different aspects of the brain and plays a role in how pain is experienced. Hypnotherapy can benefit cancer patients by providing a way of controlling pain — the intensity and level of pain that is experienced. A study published in the Journal of Advanced Practitioner of Oncology looked at how hypnotherapy can benefit cancer patients control pain found:

Effective: Hypnotherapy is effective in controlling pain for both adult and children who are living through a battle with cancer.

Practitioners: Practitioners in the oncology field play an important part of having hypnotherapy incorporated into the treatment plans of cancer patients. When practitioners help cancer patients understand the way hypnotherapy can help control pain, it increases the chances of a cancer patient experiencing this benefit.

6. Minimizing Pain Medication

Because hypnotherapy helps with controlling pain, one of the other benefits of hypnotherapy is that it minimizes and reduces the amount of pain medication needed for cancer patients. This is a great benefit for those who do not want the added side effects that can come with traditional pain medications.

7. Reducing Emotional Distress

Emotional distress — from feelings of fear, anxiety, helplessness, depression and more can be aided and alleviated through hypnotherapy. This is good news for cancer patients and even their family members.

Why? Because although cancer patients can experience all these elements of emotional distress throughout their battle with cancer, their family members may also experience emotional distress as they watch and support a loved one through their journey and battle with cancer. So this benefit of hypnotherapy for cancer patients is also extendable to family members of cancer patients if they choose to go to hypnotherapy.

8. Improving Surgical Recovery

A battle with cancer often leads to some form of surgery to remove a part or all of cancer. Recovery from surgery is not easy especially when the human body is also continuing a fight with cancer. In one study, it was found that cancer patients who had to undergo surgery and had also participated in hypnotherapy before their surgery required:

  • Less propofol for the surgery as an anesthetic

  • Less lidocaine for an anesthetic after surgery for a topical anesthetic for pain management.

The cancer patients also reported feeling lower levels the following after surgery:

Pain intensity

Pain unpleasantness

Nausea

Fatigue

Discomfort

Emotional distress

9. Reducing Hospitalization Stays

When recovery times from surgery can be reduced for cancer patients through hypnotherapy as well as the other mentioned benefits of hypnotherapy for cancer — hypnotherapy, in turn, helps cancer patients experience reduced hospital stays. Why? Because the benefits of hypnotherapy start to overlap and support each other. When surgery recovery is aided through hypnotherapy time spent in a hospital is reduced. Which means for time for cancer patients to spend time in the comfort of their homes or out in places of their own choosing.

10. Alleviate Feelings of Fatigue

Cancer can cause feelings of fatigue. As can the treatment of cancer. Radiotherapy, in particular, has been shown to cause an increase of feelings of fatigue over the course of radiotherapy. How can this gradual increase of fatigue caused by radiotherapy be stopped or alleviate? Hypnotherapy. In this study, hypnotherapy helped decrease and alleviate feelings of fatigue by 32%.

11. Experiencing Chemotherapy Treatment

The cancer treatment of chemotherapy often comes with a side effect of nausea and vomiting. There are medications that can help with this side effect, however, they too come with their own This is where hypnotherapy can be beneficial and helpful. In a review of evidence on hypnotherapy and its effectiveness for nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy the following was found:

Children: Hypnotherapy for nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy can help children experience a lowered level of nausea.

Adults: Just like children, adults can also go through chemotherapy and experience significantly fewer sensations of nausea.

12. Easing Sensations of Nausea

Yes, chemotherapy does play a large role in why cancer patients have sensations of nausea but it is not the only reason. Sometimes nausea is also caused by the location of cancer or tumor in the human body as well as the stage of cancer. As noted above, hypnotherapy can be a benefit for when cancer patients experience sensations of nausea.

13. Decreasing Treatment Time 

Wait, hypnotherapy can help decrease treatment time for cancer patients? How? When a person is stressed, it impacts their immune system. When a person is diagnosed and is being treated for a type of cancer — it is also impacting the immune system. Hypnotherapy is beneficial to cancer patients in decreasing treatment time because as it relieves levels of stress, distress, stress, fear, pain, and anxiety, the human body can relax and in turn, the immune system has a better chance of fighting the battle with cancer.

14. Aiding Survivorship

Survivorship, are you wondering what that means? Or what survivorship is? The National Cancer Institute, explains it this way —“survivorship focuses on the health and life of a person with cancer post treatment until the end of life. It covers the physical, psychosocial, and economic issues of cancer, beyond the diagnosis and treatment phases”

Hypnotherapy plays a role in this aspect of the cancer battle because even after cancer has been cured or deemed in a state of remission, cancer patients can experience a different quality of life compared to their quality of life before being diagnosed with cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, cancer patients who have entered the cancer stage of survivorship may experience:

  • Chronic pain

  • Neuropathy

  • Cognitive problems

  • Fatigue

  • Fear of cancer recurrence

  • Hot flashes

  • Sexual dysfunction

Hypnotherapy can be used to benefit a cancer survivor by helping to relieve and reduce both the frequency and intensity of these symptoms. 

15. Advanced Stage Cancer

Being diagnosed with an advanced stage cancer can be hard. The experiences and challenges of advanced cancer are slightly different than cancer patients who are diagnosed with other lower stages of cancer. One study found that cancer patients with advanced forms of cancer benefit from hypnotherapy as it helps advanced cancer patients experience:

  • Less pain

  • Decreased levels of suffering

  • Improved mood

  • Greater survival time

Essentially, hypnotherapy is a benefit to cancer patients who have an advanced form of cancer because hypnotherapy provides a way to improve the overall quality of life. If you would like more information on stage 4 cancer and hypnotherapy, read: Hypnotherapy for Stage 4 Cancer

Additional Resources

Want more information on hypnotherapy? Check out these other resources:

Find a Hypnotherapist near you

There are hundreds of talented Hypnotherapists on DaoCloud:

Atlanta, GA • Austin, TX • Baltimore, MD • Boston, MA • Boulder, CO • Buffalo, NY • Charleston, SC • Charlotte, NC • Chicago, IL • Cincinatti, OH • Cleveland, OH • Columbus, OH • Dallas, TX • Denver, CO • Detroit, MI • Houston, TX • Indianapolis, IN • Kansas City, MO • Las Vegas, NV • Los Angeles, CA • Miami, FL • Minneapolis, MN • New York, NY • Orlando, FL • Philadelphia, PA • Phoenix, AZ • Pittsburg, PA • Portland, OR • Raleigh, NC • Salt Lake City, UT • San Antonio, TX • San Diego, CA • San Francisco, CA • San Jose, CA • Seattle, WA • St. Louis, MO • Tampa, FL • Tucson, AZ • Washington, DC

References:

Cancer Facts & Figures 2016. (n.d.). Retrieved January 18, 2019, from https://www.cancer.org/research/cancer-facts-statistics/all-cancer-facts-figures/cancer-facts-figures-2016.html

Johnson, A. J., Marcus, J., Hickman, K., Barton, D., & Elkins, G. (2016). Anxiety Reduction Among Breast-Cancer Survivors Receiving Hypnotic Relaxation Therapy for Hot Flashes. The International journal of clinical and experimental hypnosis, 64(4), 377-90. Retrieved January 17, 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5373901/

Kravits K. (2013). Hypnosis: adjunct therapy for cancer pain management. Journal of the advanced practitioner in oncology, 4(2), 83-8. Retrieved January 17,2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4093417/

Lang, E. V., Berbaum, K. S., Faintuch, S., Hatsiopoulou, O., Halsey, N., Li, X., Berbaum, M. L., Laser, E., … Baum, J. (2006). Adjunctive self-hypnotic relaxation for outpatient medical procedures: a prospective randomized trial with women undergoing large core breast biopsy. Pain, 126(1-3), 155-64. Retrieved January 17, 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2656356/

Mayhew, D., Nunns, M., Moore, D., & Ford, T. (2017). Effectiveness of Non-Pharmacological Interventions to Reduce Procedural Anxiety in Children and Adolescents Undergoing Treatment for Cancer: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Pediatric Oncall, 14(4). doi:10.7199/ped.oncall.2017.s11. Retrieved January 15, 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29714037

Montgomery, G. H., Kangas, M., David, D., Hallquist, M. N., Green, S., Bovbjerg, D. H., & Schnur, J. B. (2009). Fatigue during breast cancer radiotherapy: An initial randomized study of cognitive–behavioral therapy plus hypnosis. Health Psychology, 28(3), 317-322. doi:10.1037/a0013582. Retrieved January 18, 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19450037

Montgomery, G. H., Schnur, J. B., & Kravits, K. (2012). Hypnosis for cancer care: over 200 years young. CA: a cancer journal for clinicians, 63(1), 31-44. Retrieved January 8, 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3755455/

NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms. (n.d.). Retrieved January 18, 2019, from https://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms/search?contains=false&q=survivorship

Richardson, J., Smith, J., Mccall, G., Richardson, A., Pilkington, K., & Kirsch, I. (2007). Hypnosis for nausea and vomiting in cancer chemotherapy: A systematic review of the research evidence. European Journal of Cancer Care,16(5), 402-412. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2354.2006.00736.x. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17760926