Why is managing anxiety important?

Anxiety is linked to higher risks of cancer, of recurrence, and of cancer-related death, and also worse inflammation, a body terrainthe internal conditions of your body, including nutritional status, fitness, blood sugar balance, hormone balance, inflammation and more factor linked to cancer. We don’t know whether anxiety contributes to worse health, or if worse health contributes to anxiety, or if the link works in both directions. Since we have good evidence of links, managing your anxiety may be one step you can take to improve your outcomes.

Connections to cancer outcomes

Cancer mortality

Good evidencesignificant effects in one large or several mid-sized and well-designed clinical studies (randomized controlled trials (RCTs) with an appropriate placebo or other strong comparison control or observational studies that control for confounds) (this is the CancerChoices definition; other researchers and studies may define this differently) of higher cancer-specific and all-cause mortality among people with breast cancer experiencing anxiety

Cancer recurrence

Good evidence of higher risk of recurrence among people with breast cancer experiencing anxiety

Cancer risk

Good evidence of higher risk of cancer among people experiencing anxiety

Connections to body terrain

Find out why your body terrain is important for cancer outcomes in Optimizing Your Body Terrain ›

Body weight

Good evidence of a link between obesity and anxiety

Inflammation

Good evidence of a link between anxiety and inflammation

Your microbiome

Preliminary evidencesignificant effects in small or poorly designed clinical studies OR conflicting results in adequate studies but a preponderance of evidence of an effect (this is the CancerChoices definition; other researchers and studies may define this differently) of a link between anxiety or fear of cancer recurrence and the composition of the gut microbiome; we don’t know which direction the link operates, or if it operates in both directions

Connections to symptoms and side effects

Cognitive difficulties

Modest evidencesignificant effects in at least three small but well-designed randomized controlled trials (RCTs), or one or more well-designed, mid-sized clinical studies of reasonably good quality (RCTs or observational studies), or several small studies aggregated into a meta-analysis (this is the CancerChoices definition; other researchers and studies may define this differently) of lower cognitive performance and self-perception of worse memory and attention before surgery, mostly for brain tumors, among people with clinically relevant anxiety

Depression

Modest evidence of more depressive symptoms after surgery among people with clinically relevant anxiety before surgery, mostly for brain tumors

Pain

Modest evidence of higher levels of anxiety among people with cancer experiencing pain

Quality of life and physical function

Modest evidence of lower health-related quality of life before surgery among people with clinically relevant anxiety

Sleep disruption

Preliminary evidence of more sleep disturbance in the first year after mastectomy among people with breast cancer with anxiety

Surgical outcomes

Preliminary evidence of lower Quality of Recovery Scale scores among people with higher anxiety before and/or after elective abdominal surgery

Authors

Nancy Hepp, MS

Lead Researcher and Program Manager
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Ms. Hepp is a researcher and communicator who has been writing and editing educational content on varied health topics for more than 20 years. She serves as lead researcher, program manager, and writer for CancerChoices. Her graduate work in research and cognitive psychology, her master’s degree in instructional design, and her certificate in web design have all guided her in writing and presenting information for a wide variety of audiences and uses. Nancy’s service as faculty development coordinator in the Department of Family Medicine at Wright State University also provided experience in medical research, plus insights into medical education and medical care from the professional’s perspective.

Nancy Hepp, MS Lead Researcher and Program Manager

Maria Williams

Research and Communications Consultant
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Maria Williams is a research and communications consultant who brings over 15 years’ experience in research, consumer education, and science communication to CancerChoices. She has worked primarily in public health and environmental health.

Maria Williams Research and Communications Consultant

Reviewer

Laura Pole, RN, MSN, OCNS

Senior Clinical Consultant
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Laura Pole is senior clinical consultant for CancerChoices. Laura is an oncology clinical nurse specialist who has been providing integrative oncology clinical care, navigation, consultation, and education services for over 40 years. She is the co-creator and co-coordinator of the Integrative Oncology Navigation Training at Smith Center for Healing and the Arts in Washington, DC. Laura also manages the “Media Watch Cancer News That You Can Use” listserv for Smith Center/Commonweal. In her role as a palliative care educator and consultant, Laura has served as statewide Respecting Choices Faculty for the Virginia POST (Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment) Collaborative as well as provided statewide professional education on palliative and end-of-life care for the Virginia Association for Hospices and Palliative Care.

For CancerChoices, Laura curates content and research, networks with clinical and organizational partners, brings awareness and education of integrative oncology at professional and patient conferences and programs, and translates research into information relevant to the patient experience as well as clinical practice.

Laura sees her work with CancerChoices as a perfect alignment of all her passions, knowledge and skills in integrative oncology care. She is honored to serve you.

Laura Pole, RN, MSN, OCNS Senior Clinical Consultant

Last update: February 9, 2024

Last full literature review: July 2021

CancerChoices provides information about u0022integrativeu0022u0022 cancer care. We review u0022complementaryu0022u0022in therapies and u0022self-careu0022u0022 practices to help patients and professionals explore and integrate the best combination of u0022conventionalu0022u0022the and complementary therapies and practices for each person.

Our staff have no financial conflicts of interest to declare. We receive no funds from any manufacturers or retailers gaining financial profit by promoting or discouraging therapies mentioned on this site.

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