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Hypnosis Found to Ease Breast Cancer Pain, Boost Recovery Speed

Friday, December 28, 2007 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: hypnosis, mind-body medicine, cancer pain

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(NewsTarget) As little as 15 minutes of hypnosis may significantly reduce the discomfort associated with breast cancer surgery and even reduce medical costs, according to a study conducted at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York and published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Researchers took 200 women who were about to undergo surgery to remove cancerous breast tumors (but not full mastectomies) and first assigned them to either a 15-minute hypnosis session or a 15-minute conversation with a therapist. Women who had undergone hypnosis ended up spending less time in surgery, and then scored significantly better on tests of emotional and physical well-being than the women who had not been hypnotized.

The women who had been hypnotized needed less sedation, which led to an average operating time reduction of 10.6 minutes. This, in turn, was the primary factor in reduced treatment costs of $775.

Women who had been hypnotized scored significantly lower on measures of pain intensity (22.4 average, compared with 47.8 for the control group), nausea (6.5, compared with 25.4) and emotional upset (8.6, compared with 25.4) than women who had not been hypnotized. The hypnotized women also scored better on tests of fatigue and discomfort.

"The present brief hypnosis intervention appears to be one of the rare clinical interventions that can simultaneously reduce both symptom burden and costs," the researchers wrote. "Together, the combination of potential improvements in symptom burden for the hundreds of thousands of women facing breast cancer surgery each year and the economic benefit for institutions argues persuasively for the more widespread application of brief pre-surgical hypnosis."

Dr Sarah Cant, senior policy and information officer at Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said that "anything that can help reduce the side effects of breast surgery for cancer patients is to be welcomed," but added that "anyone interested in using hypnosis should discuss this with their breast care team first and ensure that they are using an appropriately trained hypnotherapist."

Consumer health advocate Mike Adams added, "Breast cancer patients are already hypnotized by oncologists into believing the impossible: that chemotherapy will eliminate their cancer and improve their quality of life. I think patients need to be de-hypnotized first, before pursuing any breast cancer treatments."

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