WASHINGTON: Psychological group therapy for women with breast cancer may help them not only to cope better with their disease but also live longer,
US researchers said on Monday.
The idea that such therapy can extend survival in cancer patients has been controversial for two decades. Past studies have yielded conflicting results.
Researchers led by Ohio State University's Barbara Andersen studied 227 women with breast cancer. About half took part in a year of therapy in groups of eight to 12 patients led by two clinical psychologists, while the others did not.
After 11 years, the women who participated in the group therapy were 56% less likely to die of breast cancer and 45% less likely to have their cancer return, the researchers wrote in the journal Cancer.
"Survival is kind of the bottom line when it comes to cancer. So we have people being healthy, productive people for longer - and that's a huge health outcome," Andersen, who helped lead the therapy groups, said in a telephone interview. Michael Stefanek, an American Cancer Society behavioral research expert, expressed wariness.
"Psychological interventions have been found in the majority of well-controlled studies to enhance quality of life and reduce distress. It would not be reasonable for patients to participate in psychological interventions with the goal of extending survival," he said in a statement.
The improved survival may stem from better immune function resulting from stress reduction, the researchers said.
6 months ago