increased risk of anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress

Paying close attention to the mental health of cancer patients is crucial because the news about the presence of cancer in their bodies, treatments and symptoms can cause a mental problem.

Pay special attention to mental health of cancer patients is crucial because the news about the presence of cancer in their bodies, the treatments used to control the symptoms, among many other factors it can cause depression, anxiety and in some cases, stress post-traumatic

The Journal of Medicine and Public Health (MSP) consulted Dr. Eida Castro Figueroa, a clinical psychologist and associate professor of the Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychiatry at the Ponce School of Medicine (Ponce University of Health Sciences), who explained the incidence of cancer in the different stages of cancer.

Mental health before diagnosis

Cancer can manifest itself through various physical symptoms that could alert the patient to this condition. At that time, according to psychologist Castro, uncertainty, fear and anxiety can be evident.

“When there is doubt before diagnosis, uncertainty, fear and uncertainty abound. anxiety because there may be an illness that affects not only health, but also life. So there is a lot of fear, uncertainty, anxiety. Sometimes there are people who avoid going to the doctor before the diagnosis for fear of being given a fatal diagnosis like cancer. (…) This can cause anger at yourself because maybe you didn’t take care of yourself the way you should have taken care of yourself. There can be existential courage or a spiritual thing, for example: ‘I have done so many good things, I have been a spiritual person, and yet, because I am receiving punishment’. Often, a cancer diagnosis can be understood as a punishment“, explained the psychologist Castro.

Mental health when they already have a diagnosis

Once a patient diagnosed with cancer knows the disease they are facing, the possible treatment that could save their life, and the obstacles they will face, they can feel calm. However, there are cases where other effects may occur.

“When the patient knows his diagnosis, his prognosis, what awaits him in terms of the results of that treatment, he can have some peace of mind and establish trust. Mental symptoms decrease a little, we call these symptoms emotional stress. emotional stress either depression, anxiety, anger, sadness, all these emotions are normal that occur within this process. when we call him depression, anxiety or any other type of clinical name we refer to patients whose symptoms are already developing and require clinical attention. When they learn about their diagnosis and treatment, they can alleviate the distressing symptoms that manifest as depression And fear. Cancer treatment creates secondary symptoms: hair loss, nausea, gastrointestinal problems, exhaustion, fatigue, neuropathy that causes inflammation of the nerve endings. This causes pain, these symptoms again cause anxiety in patients and in many casess When a patient does not fully understand their treatment process and symptoms, they may interpret that the cancer is progressing. So this again causes emotional stress in patients”elaborated by dr.

Mental health at the end of treatment

As already shown, the emotions of a cancer patient change depending on the stage of the disease. When a cancer survivor defeats the disease and the treatment pays off, the survivorship phase begins that could have a significant impact on their psychological health.

“We are talking about patients who have no more evidence of cancer, they go into a period of observation where they continue their medical examinations to see that there is no cancer in another part of the body and there can be a fear of recurrence. Whenever people experience any physical symptoms, they may associate it with the cancer, that the cancer is coming back, or that it is reoccurring. Every time the date of the doctor’s examination approaches, people get really, really scared again anxiety how will those medical examinations turn out. There are many patients who, because of the treatment, may continue to have physical symptoms associated with the same treatment: tiredness, fatigue, neuropathy, and these symptoms affect their daily functioning. If these are people who want to return to the work environment, then their emotions at work could affect them there. So this creates another situation stress and the emotional impact that will affect the quality of their lives”, noted the psychologist.

Mental health when cancer treatment has failed

When a cancer patient fails to beat their disease, serious mental, psychological and emotional consequences can occur as the outcome is fatal. dr. Castro explained:

“At the end of life, there are people who may have cancer at an advanced stage and have lived 7, 8, 9 to 10 years with cancer. These are people who receive treatment to prolong their lives, but there comes a point when the treatment is no longer enough. There they go to the end of life and obviously when they go to the end of life we ​​are talking about the fear of death, the anxiety of what will happen to my relatives.. Many of them have this concern. Existential Question: What will happen after I leave this world? These are other situations that can generate emotional distress that could then be framed in clinical symptoms of a disorder. mental health as depression, anxiety and syndrome stress post-traumatic,” warned the psychologist.


dr. Castro explained the phenomenon of the conspiracy of silence that occurs very often in the lives of patients facing a diagnosis of a chronic pathology such as cancer.

There is a phenomenon in psychology called the conspiracy of silence. This is when the patient or family member tries to hide how they are feeling and that they are upset because they do not want to worry the family member. On the other hand, relatives also hide their feelings from the patient because they do not want to worry him. Then both are upset and this trouble can develop into a disorder mental health and neither of them wants to maybe reveal it or at least to each other or be aware of it because of worry. What will the time bomb generate. (…) I recommend that at the moment they need help, that whoever can touch it, that they can then rely on the staff mental health to help you in the process. Now there is something called a service stigma mental health and this was also challenged in this population. (…) There is another term that we also overuse, positivism, that when, despite feeling bad and not wanting to say it, I might pretend I’m fine so others don’t see it. I allow myself to be defeated, which prevents others from seeking emotional help as caregivers. psychologist Castro concluded in a dialogue with MSP.