Women with breast cancer 'live longer' with group therapy

Joining a support group could double a woman's chances of surviving breast cancer, research suggests.

Breast cancer patients who attended regular stress-busting sessions with psychologists were around half as likely to die from the disease as other women, a study found. The disease was also less likely to come back, and when it did, it took longer to recur, increasing the amount of high-quality time they had with their loved ones, the journal Cancer reports.It is thought the support the women received, including relaxation and problem solving techniques and advice on how to approach family and friends, helped thwart the cancer by cutting stress levels.

Although a link between patient support and quality of life has been made before, this study is the first to credit it with the ability to prolong life. Researcher Barbara Andersen (CORR) said: 'The results suggest that we can help breast cancer patients make positive steps that may help them live longer and make recurrence less likely.'

Professor Andersen, of Ohio State University, tracked the wellbeing of 227 breast cancer patients for an average of 11 years. At the start of the study, all had undergone breast surgery but the cancer had not spread. All received the usual medical treatment but half were also asked to attend regular group counselling sessions. Led by a psychologist, these included relaxation techniques and advice on how to avoid becoming too tired and how to approach family and friends for support.

The 26 sessions held over the course of a year also included some diet and exercise advice and information on how to deal with side-effects of cancer treatment. The cancer recurred in 62 of the women and 54 died. However, analysis showed the women who took part in the group sessions or 'intervention programme' we around half as likely to have died.

Source - Daily Mail

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