Breast Cancer and Cognitive Behavioral Stress Management

Receiving a breast cancer diagnosis is a stressful experience. But what if there were ways to not only reduce this stress but lower the overall mortality rate for breast cancer as well?

A recent study conducted at the University of Miami by Michael Antoni, Ph.D. and his colleagues, discovered that a therapeutic approach to Cognitive Behavioral Stress Management (CBSM) can not only help to successfully relieve cancer distress but can also lower the mortality and recurrence rate for breast cancer patients.

The CBSM program

The CBSM program trains patients in critical skills for managing stress and learning more adaptive, realistic ways of thinking about concerns like cancer recurrence. This facilitates effective coping with the many challenges cancer and its treatment present, and helps to mobilize dependable support from friends and family.

The CBSM study

In the study of 240 women with breast cancer, women were randomly assigned to two different groups. The control group participated in a one-day educational course with a handout summarizing some principles of CBSM. The other group met in small groups for 10 weeks in full 90-minute CBSM training sessions.

The CBSM study findings

The women who had participated in the 10-week training sessions had a 75% reduction in overall mortality risk not just from breast cancer but from other common causes of death, as well, such as complications of cardiovascular disease (which can commonly occur in breast cancer patients). Further, patients with invasive breast cancer were 76% less likely to have a breast cancer recurrence, and were 92% less likely to die of breast cancer.

Patients had a much lower activity of genes that contribute to cancer, such as those which promote unhealthy insulin levels, produce inflammation and metastases, and result in damaging levels of cortisol (a key stress hormone).

How CBSM programs help

For reasons not yet fully understood, CBSM programs produce important changes in the behavior and biology of chronic stress in cancer patients. This could be due to substantial decreases in genetic factors potentially driving cancer promotion.

Further, struggling with stress can lead to depression and make it more difficult to adhere to long-term medical recommendations. This can also lead to high cortisol levels, which affects the body’s immune responses. CBSM programs counteract depression and anxious thought patterns, and the side effects are great: a better mood and better ability to cope with life.

CBSM programs as a part of an integrative approach

CBSM is never a substitute for conventional treatment, but it certainly belongs as a core component of a truly integrative cancer care system. To fully combat breast cancer, a combination of chemotherapy protocols and/or targeted therapies, individualized nutrition and personalized physical activity, coupled with carefully selected researched supplements, is used to create a comprehensive plan tailored to meet the needs of each patient.

At The Block Center, all patients have access to a personalized program of cognitive-behavioral stress management tools. Our biobehavioral team members are ready to meet with you and help you put into practice the insights of CBSM during and after your cancer treatments, so you can obtain the many benefits of these strategies To make an appointment, call (877) 412-5625 today.

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