Science-Based Medicine » The Mind in Cancer: Low Quality Evidence from a High-Impact Journal


A very strong critique of some of the claims that psychological treatment can improve long-term cancer outcomes, going through a number of studies and poking holes in them (see my post earlier this week on depression effects here – this study is not mentioned in this critique). Quote:

Psycho-oncology once had more modest aspirations to which it should return. Wikipedia defines it in reasonable and attainable terms:

a field of interdisciplinary study and practice at the intersection of lifestyle, psychology and oncology. It is concerned with aspects of cancer that go beyond medical treatment and include lifestyle, psychological and social aspects of cancer.

Being able to extend the life of cancer patients is a much stronger claim than merely being able to improve the quality of their lives. The prestige that would go with demonstrating that the mind influences cancer is difficult to resist and a recent commentary in the International Society of Psycho-Oncology journal Psycho-Oncology offered a redefinition — “The very name ‘psycho-oncology’ implies interaction between brain and body” — and went on to make discredited claims of psychotherapy improving survival without any citation of the numerous critiques of this literature that have appeared.

As I have noted earlier, whether or not this improves outcomes, improvement in quality of life is equally important.

Science-Based Medicine » The Mind in Cancer: Low Quality Evidence from a High-Impact Journal.


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