Focusing on the mental and emotional well-being of cancer patients may be as important as physically treating the disease. That's according to Stanford psychiatrist David Spiegel, MD, who talks about the importance of tending to patients' emotional needs in a new commentary (subscription required) in the Journal of the American Medical Association. He writes:
Even at the end of life, helping patients face death, make informed decisions, mobilize social support, and control pain is not only humane but also may be medically more effective than simply continuing aggressive anticancer treatment.
He goes on to discuss studies showing that emotional and social support can help patients with cancer live longer (or help improve quality of life), and he explains the reasons that may be.
"Treating the patient with the disease, not just the disease within the patient, contributes to overall medical outcome," he concludes.