Psychology Notes – Mar. 20
- People with chronic illnesses need good social support. Symptoms that are constant produce
discouragement and fear, symptoms that are in remission produce hope, symptoms that are
unpredictably erratic produce anger and frustration, and symptoms that are relentlessly progressive
produce exhaustion and a sense of being overwhelmed.
- Cancer: Involves uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells, which often form a tumour. Cancer is
metastasized when abnormal cells spread from the original site to other parts of the body. Cancer
cells grow too quickly for the immune system to attack them. Some people are able to turn their lives
around so much that they can improve their immunes and spontaneously go into remission. There
are many forms of cancer with different symptoms. The most common types are lung, breast,
prostate, and colorectal. The lifetime probability of getting cancer is 40% for males and 36% for
- Psychological responses to cancer: A cancer diagnosis often brings psychological responses and
emotional distress. Some people may feel hostile and hostility is bad for the cardiovascular system.
There may be some pain associated with the cancer, and pain management is sometimes not always
done well. If people don’t manage their pain well, they will get stressed, their immune system will
become suppressed, the cancer may get worse, and the pain may get worse. Managing pain
effectively can improve mood and quality of life, and can impact the outcome of the disease
- Suffering among cancer patients may occur in three areas: 1. Physical – Accounts for 60% of
suffering. It can include fatigue, pain, and side effects of treatment. Physical suffering can be illness-
caused and treatment-caused. 2. Psychological – Accounts for 44% of suffering and includes
depression and fear. Talk therapy and medications are important for dealing with this. 3. Social –
Accounts for 13% of suffering. The primary problem is withdrawal. People don’t know how to
approach and talk to people with cancer. Some people may think cancer is contagious.
- Cancer and physical distress: Pain management is a major challenge. More than 90% of pain can be
controlled by current treatment, but it tends to be underused. Patients’ attitudes and behaviour are a
major influence in this. They may fear drug tolerance or addiction, so they are hesitant to seek
treatment. They may believe pain must be tolerated, so they are hesitant to report pain.
- Cancer and psychological distress: A lot of people with cancer experience fear and depression. The
negative consequences of depression are poorer quality of life, reduced compliance, longer hospital
stays, higher mortality rates, and greater reported pain. This depression is linked to intrusive
memories, which are unwanted thoughts related to memories of cancer. These intrusive memories
result in poorer coping due to anxiety and a sense of hopelessness and helplessness.
- Cancer and coping style: The psychological response is influenced by the patient’s coping style.
Emotion-focused coping is when the person focuses on reducing the emotional impact of the disease,
typically through avoidance. Blunters will tend to avoid things. Problem-focused coping is when the
person focuses on addressing stressors, typically through actions such as compliance and increasing
their knowledge. Monitors are more likely to engage in problem-focused coping. Emotional-approach
coping is when the person faces their emotional responses to a disease and deals with them
- Treatment of cancer: Typically treatment involves one or a combination of the following – surgery to
remove tumours, radiation therapy to shrink tumours, chemotherapy to treat metastasized cancer or
prevent it from spreading, and hormone therapy to reduce the presence of tumour-stimulating