Thursday, December 2, 2010


Beliefs & Attitudes Influence Cancer Outcomes

Cancer is a very threatening disease. The outcome can be a cure, a temporary remission or death. Neither one is really predictable. We see disseminated cancers go into prolonged remissions and apparently more benign ones taking a disappointing course. What has puzzled doctors for a long time is this: why do we often see two similar patients with the same degree of disease and receiving the same treatment, experience totally different outcomes? One will die within a short time while the other will live for years or decades.

This question troubled a radiation oncologist in the early 1970's. His mane was Dr. Carl Simonton, MD. He did his research at the University of Texas and came to realize a few things. Patients who had a strong will and a strong motivation to live usually outlived the ones who were discouraged and hopeless. I recommend you read his book: "Getting Well Again" for the whole story.

Based on this observation, Dr. Simonton designed an intervention program focused on changing the emotional attitudes of patients from hopelessness and depression to hopefulness and a heightened passion for living. The patients who did this work and modified their beliefs and attitudes lived twice as long as those who did not. This was the beginning of a revolution in cancer treatment.