Patients with head and neck cancers, who experience high levels of distress compared with other cancer types, benefit from psychological intervention and techniques such as meditation, according to new research presented at the COSA ASM yesterday.
Symptoms of treatment that contribute to high levels of distress include: painful swallowing; weight loss; facial disfigurement; difficulty chewing, speaking and breathing; and fatigue and nausea associated with chemotherapy.
Lead author and Head of Psychiatry at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Dr Jeremy Couper, said the study showed patients benefited from the mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques the one-on-one psychology sessions equipped them with.
“Eighty-eight per cent of the patients who took part practiced the meditation techniques three or more times per week,” Dr Couper said. “Higher levels of mindfulness that was taught in the sessions was linked to higher post-intervention quality of life, social wellbeing and emotional wellbeing, and lower cancer-related stress including less anger, fatigue, depression and anxiety.”