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Health Psychology
Chapter 10: Cancer
Nov 9-12, 2007
Classes #33-34
Cancer is the 2nd most common
cause of death in the US after heart
Cancer kills 1 out of every 4
The risk of developing cancer can be
reduced by changes in a person’s
What is Cancer?
Normal body cells grow, divide and
die in an orderly fashion.
Cancer cells are different because
they do not die, just continue to divide
and grow.
Cancer cells form as a result of
damaged DNA.
What is Cancer?
These damaged genes can be
passed on, which accounts for
inherited cancers.
In other cases, the DNA is damaged
by an outside source such as
Cancer usually forms a tumor.
What is Cancer
There are two types of tumors:
Malignant and Benign
Malignant tumors spread to other
areas in the body. These are the
dangerous ones.
Benign tumors stay in one place.
Types of Cancer
Sarcoma-rise from connective tissue
such as muscle or bone and are more
common in younger people.
Carcinomas-which occur in epithelial
tissue and are more common in older
people. It includes lung, breast,
prostate, and colon.
Types of Cancer
Leukemia- cancers of the blood or
blood forming organs.
Lymphomas- affect the lymphatic
system. The lymphatic system is a
group of vessels and nodes that act
as the body’s filter. It prevents
bacteria and foreign invaders from
entering the bloodstream.
Causes of Cancer
80% are considered sporadicmeaning the cause is unknown. There
are several risk factors that increase
the chance of cancer:
Age- risk increases >50.
Diet- high fat, high cholesterol diets
increase risk.
Causes of Cancer
Obesity- no clear link but research
indicates it is a factor
Cigarettes- increases lung cancer,
other tobacco products such as pipes
and chewing tobacco increase
cancers of the mouth.
Long term exposure to chemicalsasbestos, radon and benzene.
Causes of Cancer
Exposure to high levels of radiation
Harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun.
Some viruses- Hepatitis B, C, HPV,
Immune system diseases
Causes of Cancer
Screenings are recommended for
high risk families. You are considered
high risk if : Several relatives have
had cancer or if someone had cancer
at a very early age.
Symptoms of Cancer
Remember one word: CAUTION
Changes in bowel or bladder habits.
A sore that will not heal.
Unusual bleeding or discharge
Thickening or lump in breast or any
part of the body.
Indigestion or difficulty swallowing.
Obvious change in any wart or mole
Nagging cough or hoarseness.
Diagnosis of Cancer
Biopsy- small tissue sample under a
microscope to look for cancerous
Endoscopy- a flexible plastic tube with
a tiny camera
Diagnostic Imaging- x rays
Diagnosis of Cancer
CAT scan- more precise than
standard x-ray.
MRI- uses a powerful magnetic field,
very accurate but expensive.
Blood Tests- some tumors release
substances called tumor markers
which can be found in the blood.
Treatment of Cancer
Types of treatment:
Surgery- 60% of all cancer pts. have
some kind of surgery.
Radiation Therapy
Diet and Cancer
The American Cancer Society recommends 4
rules of thumb for cancer prevention:
Choose most of the foods you eat from
plant sources. 5 or more servings
Limit intake of high fat foods, particularly
from animal sources.
Be physically active.
Limit alcohol intake.
Dietary Components
Associated with Cancer
Excesses of Certain substances such
Fat- the end products of metabolism
have been found to be carcinogenic.
Alcohol- has been connected with
liver, colorectal, and breast cancers.
Pickled and Smoked Foods- related
to cancers of the esophagus and
stomach. that may increase the risk.
Dietary Components
Associated with Cancer
Cooking methods have also been
found to have a role in cancer. Frying
or charcoal-broiling meats at very
high temperatures creates chemicals
Protective Dietary Components
Certain foods and nutrients have
been shown to protect against certain
types of cancers.
Vitamin C - has been shown to
protect against cancer of stomach,
esophagus, and oral cavity.
antioxidants- these are certain
nutrients found in fruits and
Protective Dietary Components
Fruits and Veggies- contain vitamins, fiber
and phytochemicals.
Vitamin E and selenium- both antioxidants
that protect cells against breakdown.
Calcium- Calcium reduces cell turnover
Water- drinking more than 5 glasses a day
has been associated with a lower risk of
Cancer-Prone Personality
- present a calm front externally, but often have pent-up
emotions, usually negative emotions like anger and
- non competitive & submissive
- have difficulty expressing their emotions and feelings
- often overwhelmed with feelings of hopelessness &
- meticulous, serious and neat people
- have poor coping skills to stressful situations
- show self-blame at the time of diagnosis of terminal
Holistic Medicine
Guided Imagery
Systematic Desensitization
Guided Imagery
Get patient to relax focus on positive
images replaces negative ones
Bovbjerg and Redd (1990)
20 female ovarian cancer patients
Chemotherapy given to patients in
hospital setting
Patients return home within 24-48 hours
after treatment
Classically conditioned anticipatory
nausea and vomiting (ANV) and
anticipatory immune suppression (AIS)
Bovbjerg and Redd (1990)
UCS ------------------------------------------- UCR
NS -------------------------------------------- NO RESPONSE
(no reaction)
NS + UCS ----------------------------------- UCR
(hospital) (chemo)
* This is repeated several times…
CS --------------------------------------------- CR
Bovbjerg and Redd (1990)
UCS ------------------------------------------- UCR
NS -------------------------------------------- NO RESPONSE
(no reaction)
NS + UCS ----------------------------------- UCR
(hospital) (chemo)
* This is repeated several times…
CS --------------------------------------------- CR
Participants experienced both
decreased immune function and
increased nausea when they returned
to hospital setting
Practical Implications
Could cancer patients decrease in
immune functioning possibly be
Important factors in Treatment
Knowledge and Control
Emotional Disclosure
Emotional Intelligence
Social Support
Stop , Look, and Listen
Be aware of your body, this is the best
prevention against cancer.
Early detection can be the difference
between life and death!
Here are some things to look for early
detection of the most common
Stop, Look, and Listen
Breast Cancer- look for a lump, any
puckering, dimpling or scaling of the
breast skin.
Colorectal Cancer- blood in the stool,
prolonged diarrhea, or constipation.
Endometrial Cancer- (lining of the
uterus) bleeding between periods or
after menopause.
Stop, Look, and Listen
Cervical Cancer-Bleeding after
intercourse, or between periods
Prostate- Frequent or painful
urination, blood in the urine, difficulty
starting and stopping.
Testicular Cancer- a change in the
consistency of the testicles, or a small
hard lump that is often painless.
Stop, Look, and Listen
Oral Cancer- white or velvety red
Skin Cancer- Check body from head
to toe, looking for new moles, or those
that have suddenly increased in size,
changed color, or bleed easily.
Lung cancer- chest pain, recurring
bronchitis, or pneumonia
Cancer is a preventable disease in
most cases.
Lead a healthy lifestyle.
Be aware of your body.
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