Hypnosis: a Powerful Tool in Complementary Cancer Care
Initial studies have shown hypnosis to be extremely beneficial for cancer patients and loved ones who battle anxiety, difficulty sleeping, and other secondary symptoms associated with traditional cancer treatments. Aggressive cancers like mesothelioma can have harmful side effects associated with radiation and chemotherapy regimens. Hypnosis has been shown to demonstrate improved capacity to manage these symptoms in mesothelioma patients as well as that of other types of cancer.
Hypnotherapy has been used for many years in clinical settings. Hypnotherapy’s role in cancer management however, is relatively new and indications are that its utilization has not been fully maximized yet. Effective cancer treatment often depends on the patient’s ability to not only defeat the cancer through treatments but also to maintain their health and mental spirit throughout the painful side effects of cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation.
Often, the symptoms and effects of the cancer itself on the body are negligible compared to the pain and other side effects of chemotherapy and radiation. This is where acupuncture has been said to be most effective. Cancers such as mesothelioma, which are often unable to be removed by surgical means, are often treated with some combination of chemotherapy and radiation. While these potent therapies can be effective in eliminating some of the tumor mass and growth, they also profoundly affect the health of the surrounding tissue. Symptoms of these effects including fever, nausea, and general pain have been dramatically reduced through the utilization of hypnosis. Patients, who are able to withstand these symptoms and recover quickly, will often be able to be more aggressively treated, increasing the efficacy of the treatment regimen as a whole. Some specific hypnotherapy techniques utilized in pain management include altering the neurophysical configuration of pain, control of anticipatory anxiety, and targeted imagery.
Hypnotherapy techniques may not be appropriate for all patient’s pain and individual symptoms but it’s certainly worth exploring as it can do very little harm in experimenting with integrative therapies. The goal with alternative therapies, as with traditional mesothelioma treatments, is always to increase the effectiveness of treatment as a whole. If hypnotherapy can assist in any way in helping patients recover or manage symptoms of chemotherapy or radiation, then it will have contributed to the treatment regimens overall efficacy and should certainly be utilized.
Erickson MH: Hypnosis in painful terminal illness, in Haley J (ed): Advanced Techniques of Hypnosis and Therapy: Selected Papers of Milton Erickson, MD. New York, Crune & Stratton, 1967.
Sunnen, Gerard M.D. , Hypnotic Approaches in the Cancer Patient Ozonics International, LLC