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Emotional responses to cancer


Emotional responses to cancer

When diagnosed with cancer, patients will generate a series of psychological responses, most of which are negative and discouraging ones. Patients’ attitudes towards cancer have direct impacts on whether they are active enough to face the occurring misfortune. For patients themselves or their families, a good understanding of possible emotional changes is necessary to help further overcome these obstacles.


When getting aware of getting cancer, some patient will refuse to accept the fact and this kind of emotion is denial. Denial can serve as an emotional buffer that helps ease people from the heavy beat of the bad news. Denial can be helpful because it gives patients to adjust to the diagnosis and makes them feel hopeful and better.

However, people who refuse to accept the disease will spend time in confirming examinations which will delay the early detection and treatment. As a result, patients should be encouraged to face the truth, though painful.


Fear is the initial response for cancer patients. When first hearing of getting cancer, they have feelings of panic, nervousness and fear, and seriously, some feel restless and sleepless all day. This emotional response has both advantages and disadvantages from the perspective of psychological defense mechanism. Fear is a warning signal that prompts people to react actively against possible threats though painful sometimes with this fear.

However, long-term, serious anxiety can bring about endocrine dysfunctions and further destroy natural defense systems. When this is the case, fear, instead of a positive signal of body defense, is evolved into an emotional disease that will affect cancer treatment.


Anger is a fiercely emotional response that patients react when they know that nothing can change the fact. It’s normal to ask, “Why me?” and be angry at cancer. Patients may also feel anger or resentment towards people around them, including doctors and nurses, healthy friends and your loved ones.

Cancer patients may easily get annoyed at some trifles. Patients themselves should control their emotions so as not to damage defense mechanism. Meanwhile, their families and medical staffs should give more understanding and tolerance.


Some cancer patients have been plagued by fear of death all the time. People hold different attitudes towards death. Some patients who are encouraged by their lovers decide to climb out of the despair and depression and live a life in a positive attitude. They abandon complaints and worry and receive the cancer therapy in hope of recovery.


When patients receive therapy for months but see little effects, a feeling of depression will haunt them. Thinking of the disease that imposes the economic burden on their families, a mixture of feelings like guilt, depression and loneliness trouble them. Though they feel positive from some hopeful thoughts and things sometimes, they suddenly fall into depression and despair. Hope and depression usually intertwine in the treatment course.

All these feelings are natural emotional responses for cancer patients. Patients should be active to find ways to cope with these feelings and love and care should be given.


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