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Running Head: CANCER

The Psychological Effects of Experiencing Cancer

Emmanuel Rincon

The University of Texas at El Paso



This literature review focuses on answering how cancer affects patients psychological

health and how the treatment is including this component into treating the patient as a whole.

Using the statistical data collected in the last fourteen years, that reveals the reasons for the

larges targeted demographics in the United States. Acknowledging that there are cultural

differences that affect the outcome of cases early prevention and their treatment. Prevention

methods are intensively being implemented in the United States for the past two decades. History

helps us understand the priority to continues the development of cancer treatment. The evolution

of cancer treating methods can further be expanded with technology and the reach for other

fields in science to contribute to the cause. Among those recognizable institutions UTEP stands

firm in developing an innovative drug to treat lung cancer.


Psychological treatment for Cancer: A Review of Literature

Being diagnosed with cancer is typically a life-threatening experience. It could shift

someones life out of proportion. Even though there have been great advances in medical

treatments in the last twenty years there are still an unknown regimen being developed. The

severe effects of cancer range from physiological to psychological problems. These predicaments

could occur during and after receiving effective treatment. Cho (2013) conveyed that cancer

patients overall well-being can be compromised due to the fact of signs like anxiety, depression,

fatigue, sleep difficulties, and the fear of recurrence. Recent research has been targeting the

effects after cancer that challenges the patients quality of life (pg. 877). The most common

cancer type in the United States over the last few years has been colorectal and breast cancer.

According to The American Cancer Society, there is an increase in people being diagnosed and

there is a decrease in deaths caused by cancer. Due to the fact that there is more awareness to

early detection and preventive methods. Nevertheless, there is a wide space between

accomplishing to over through cancer in the US and the current statistics. The purpose of this

literature review is to attempt to answer the uncertainties that cancer brings to people

attentiveness regarding psychological health. There is a common denominator that connects

College Student to the evolving of cancer treatments. The University of Texas has a great

involvement in cancer research that could benefit several disciplines. Analyzing different genres

that focus on the topic of implementing psychological treatment for cancer. Targeting the

following questions through the review as guide line.

1. What demographic is more susceptible to by diagnosed with any type of cancer and
how does it differ from other ethnic groups?

2. How has the different method of treatment have evolved in the previous twenty

3. Does Mental health an essential component for the cancer treatment to be effective
or is cancer only physiological?

4. What are the contributions that UTEP is making towards cancer research?

What demographic is more susceptible to by diagnosed with any type of cancer and how does it
differ from other ethnic groups?

Cancer is not one to discriminate a persons race, ethnicity, socio-economic status or

gender. Collected data shows that over the period of fourteen years the incidence rates in all

cancer types has target one specific group in society. The most affected demographic is white

males and females in the United States with significantly high rates through a constant number of

years from 1999-2013 as showed in figure 1.1 below. Even though this group has more than

400,000 incident cases each year, fortunately the mortality rate is drastically lower. The two

types of cancer that are associated with this group are breast and colorectal cancer. Most of the

cases are detected in early stages having great survival possibilities. The percentage of survive

with a stage one cancer is 90% and stage two has an 80% when located in a breast. Differently

colorectal cancer has a lower survival percentage but when detected early there is a greater range

of treatment options. The following group that is more likely to be diagnosed is Black males and

females. It is not surprising to find these two groups on top of the rates because they are the

largest populations in the U.S. What is surprising is that many minorities including African

American, Hispanics, Asian American, and Native American that are being diagnosed have the

highest mortality rate.

Could it be that members of these minorities are not getting diagnosed due to a lack of

medical attention? This means that while these other ethnic groups have less cancer diagnoses

they also have less chance for early detection. Cultural differences can be a factor in how

specific groups can become more susceptible to cancer mortality. According to Adler &Page

(2008) there are cultural differences that should be considered to assist the patient as a whole. It

would be impossible to deliver high quality cancer care without addressing patients specific

needs. Cultural differences are placed into two basic categorizes, genetically and environmental

aspects. Every person has unique genetic material that could contribute to developing some sort

of physical or mental disease (pg. 563). the reality is that there could be a greater pattern in the

environmental experiences of a person. Nurture seems to have a stronger face than nature when it

comes to this topic. This is strongly influenced by Henselmans (2010) which study the areas of

life styles, health care, and education in different cultural groups. Causes for cancer have not yet

been determined but the improvement in these three areas has been correlated to be beneficial to

cancer patients, (pg. 569).The sense of education is among the needs that patients struggle to

meet. These educational methods regard the understanding of their cancer diagnoses, their

treatment plan, copping skills, nutrition, and psycho-education to manage stress that emanates

from cultural stigmas (Dolbeault, 2009).

Figure 1.1 This chart shows the incidence rates of all cancer cites combined in the last fourteen year.

How has the different method of treatment have evolved in the previous century?

Time and Technology have a positive relationship when it comes to progress. As the world

has evolved it has transformed various aspects of life. Technology has the leading edge in the

tools used to promote advances in science. Cancer treatment has been part of the fields that

technology has significantly benefited. The Methods for treating this gruesome illness are now

reliable and well researched. There has been a great breakthrough in medicine and procedures

helping to safe a greater number of cancer patients. The oldest method for treating cancer is

surgically, tracing back to ancient times. Hunt (2016) stated that before anesthesia the process

of undergoing surgery was painful and in many cases fatal (1:17 minutes). Forwarding to more

relative times until the 1970 extensive surgery had to be performed in order to diagnose a person

with cancer. Surgeons had to open the affected area to detect the damage, taking samples of the

abnormalities to further testing. Often cancer was detected until a very advance stage where

medical intervention could cause a faster spreading of the melanoma. Today the computerized

tomography also known as (CT scan) has made surgery much easier, giving the ability to

visualize a tumors location and size. Surgeons could now have a clear view on the tumor to

strategize their approach. An initial study of the CT scan of M.D. Andreson Hospital and Tumor

institute (1972) predicted the extraordinary results that this machine could help obtain. Claiming

that it would fill in the blank that for many years surgical medicine was missing. In the other

hand chemo and radiation therapy have also greatly developed in the past couple of decades.

Reducing the extreme surgical measures that had to be taken before. Breast cancer is an example

of how these two practices have enhanced. Twenty years ago mastectomy was the most popular

surgical procedure to obtain better care. Now with the amelioration of chemo and radiation

therapy its possible to preserve as much of the breast as possible. This advance has redefined the

struggles of a female breast cancer survivor. The amputation of the beast is one of the causes of

many women to suffer from depression or other psychological distress. The relief of cancer pain

produces other uncertainties in the stability of an individual, according with Tung (2016) the

after treatment affect quality of life for various reasons. The side effects of these treatments are

half of the reasons peoples life quality is disrupted. Technology has assisted these limitations

with additional preventing medications that alleviate nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, and other

symptoms. There is not a cure for cancer but the evolution of these treatments can supplement

patient with relief throughout their fight until science finds other alternatives (pg. 893).

Does mental health an essential component for the cancer treatment to be effective or is cancer

only physiological?

As mentioned in the beginning of the review Cancer is a devastating experience for an

individual to maintain full control of their emotional being. The effects in a cancer diagnose are

biological, physical, and psychological. These three areas need to be addressed in order for the

patient successfully overcome cancer. In many cases the medical system has ignored the

importance of an emotion intervention. Oncologist and specialist in Cancer surgery understand

the benefits in asking their patients how are they adapting to the idea of them having cancer. A

survey conducted in medical visits Cerezo (2014) measured the positivity and negative responses

that a person would gradually develop over a lapse of visits. The findings simply communicated

that positive patients had better stress management reflecting on their collaboration with

treatment and self-efficacy. Their positivity had common ground, most of the patients were

affiliated with their spirituality or a support groups. Attending a support group provides hope to

those that have lost their way in the process. In contrary negative attitudes often makes a person

magnify the pain and stress they are experiencing. The important fact here is that psychological

issues can predetermine patients to not want to treat their physical problems. Psychology is not

only the way people behave but the mental cognitive processes. If a person sets their mind to a

negative idea the entire experience could become extra overwhelming. Long (2012) explains in

his YouTube video that cancer is harsh and cruel to the body but devastating to the mind.

Similarly Cho (2013) defines the typical symptoms that are synthesized in people with

cancer. These are mention at the beginning of the review but its important to address in detailed.

The entire list is very acceptable for situations of high levels of stress, anxiety, depression, and

fear are the most difficult to manage. The unknown brings anxiety to the persons most rational

thoughts including their decision making. This can obstruct the significance of correct treatment

time and method. Another symptom is depression that causes the rapid deterioration of the

persons self-goals to survive. Cho said that depression is the number one factor of decline in

people that lack a strong back support in family members or intimate friends. The prevention of

these two symptoms can motivate patients to finish their treatments. Even after the remission

stage begins the psychological problems can continue. The fear of the disease recurring could be

as bad as the initial diagnoses. In any given time that person can feel misunderstand or

abandoned by their physician (pg. 589). The importance of maintaining communication with

doctors, support groups, social workers, and family can undoubtedly result in a lifesaving


What are the contributions that UTEP is making towards cancer research?

The University of Texas in El Paso has been recognized among the top fifteen institutions in

the nation that are making innovative contributions in cancer research. In 2016 The Lung Cancer

Research Foundation awarded UTEP with $150.000, to continue developing the study of new

drugs targeting cell death drug resistance. Conducting an email interview with Rachid Skouta

Ph.D. research assistant professor better helped understand the purpose of the promising

contributions. In lung cancer as in other cancer types the drug treatments in chemo attacts all

cells in the body killing cancer and healthy cell. Skouta found a common protein found in lung

cancer mutated cells that has not been researched before. The notion of this protein could help

create a drug that healthy cell could resist. The composition of cancer cells has been studied for

couple of decades but a cure has not yet been found because of the diversity in Cancer cells

unpredictable behavior. Asking Skouta how his findings narrows the way to finding a cure he

said It is very important to understand, at the molecule level, how a set of specific proteins may

be the cause of some specific diseases like lung cancer, Skouta explained. These proteins were

never researched to find out more about their enzymatic role on drug resistance. We found a

specific protein that was never uncovered or never investigated in this field. It seems like

UTEP has a great deal of responsibility to expand the knowledge of this Protein. The selection of

this border area to conduct primary investigations is a wide opportunity to consider in career

focusing among UTEP students. Rachid Skouta is interested in recruiting a greater population of

undergraduates with chemistry, pharmacology, biology and biomedical focus. Hunt (2016)

asserted that the cure for cancer can possibly be found in this century because of the interest of

institutions that are willing to research. This claim has no objective proof but there will be

enchanting resolutions towards this goal.



Overall this review gives a quick background on cancer history and the expected

future progress. The authors help us understand the importance in the progress this field

has made since ancient times. How the different types of methods to cure this disease have

evolve in the past twenty years. Contributing facts about the Incident rates and how they

are represented in demographics. Cancer affects a person biologically, physically,

psychologically and for this reason treatment should include these three areas. Fortunately

UTEP is making a difference in this field. An interview shows how UTEP faculty and

students have innovating research that is promising.



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Davis, J. L., Buchanan, K. L., Katz, R. V., & Green, B. L. (2012). Gender differences in cancer

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