Fighting cancer is undoubtably stressful, but research suggests that reducing cancer stress is important for both recovery and to ensure the disease doesn't come back. Here are some science-backed ways to combat stress for patients, and survivors who fear their cancer will return.

A new study now published online in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management has found that patients who experience anxiety and depression soon after being diagnosed with lung cancer are likely to die sooner. The finding is based on data from 684 patients who, at the time, were undergoing treatment for stage three non-small cell lung cancer. Results revealed patients who reported feeling anxious and depressed following diagnosis died sooner, regardless of age, sex, ethnicity, type of tumor and treatment.

"It is likely that other unmeasured factors that correlate with high anxiety and depression, such as less social support, could play a role," said senior author Robert Olson in a statement on Science Daily. "However, the relationship that we found is significant, and certainly worth further exploration into whether interventions to improve anxiety and depression in lung cancer patients can improve survival rates."

Read: Yoga Helps Breast Cancer Survivors Sleep, Reduce Inflammation After Taxing Treatment

This finding is not reserved for lung cancer patients, as similar results have also been found in breast cancer patients. What’s more, handling stress after cancer recovery could also be key to ensuring the disease does not come back. But how do you reduce the stress caused by arguably the most stressful situation of all? According to a study published last month, intervention can be helpful.

The report, published online in the journal Cancer, specifically investigated a method known as Attention and Interpretation Modification for Fear of Breast Cancer Recurrence (AIM-FBCR) intervention. Results showed that patients who received 8 sessions of this intervention treatment had improvements in health worries and interpretation bias — the tendency to interpret ambiguous situations in a positive or negative fashion.

According to Cancer.Net, some other ways to manage stress during a cancer treatment is to avoid overscheduling yourself and don't be afraid to say “no.” Many times, it can be difficult to juggle your personal life with cancer appointments and treatments. This can add unnecessary stress to patients’ lives. In addition, exercising regularly and ensuring that you still eat well and get plenty of sleep can be underestimated aids in stress management, especially during a serious illness.

Taking up yoga or meditation can also help to relax you and reduce stress during and after a bout with cancer. For example, a 2014 study found that yoga helped breast cancer survivors to sleep better and even reduced inflammation after treatment. Just 12 weeks of practice helped to reduce fatigue by up to 57 percent and inflammation by up to 20 percent in female patients emerging from successful but taxing breast cancer therapies.


Lichtenthal WG, Corner GW, Slivjak ET, et al. A pilot randomized controlled trial of cognitive bias modification to reduce fear of breast cancer recurrence. Cancer . 2017

Vodemaier A, Lucas S, Linden W, Olson R. Anxiety after diagnosis predicts lung-cancer specific and overall survival in patients with stage III non-small cell lung cancer. A population-based cohort study. JPSM . 2017

See Also:

How To Reduce Stress: Breast Cancer Patients See Lasting Mood Boosts 15 Years After Therapy

Can Grief, Emotional Stress Cause A Stroke?